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The syndrome of apathy has generated increasing interest in recent years as systematic evaluations have revealed its high prevalence and strong negative impact on quality of life across a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions. However, although several theoretical models have been proposed to account for various aspects of the condition, understanding of this syndrome is still incomplete. One influential model has proposed that apathy might be described as a quantitative reduction of goal-directed behaviour in comparison to an individual's prior level of functioning. Persistence of activity defined as the capacity to continue with a task - sometimes in the face of setbacks, high levels of difficulty or fatigue - is a crucial but understudied aspect of goal-directed behaviour. Surprisingly, it has not been investigated yet in the context of apathy. Here, we provide an overview of theoretical and experimental aspects of persistence in effort that might assist to develop methods for the investigation of persistence in human behaviour, particularly within the pathologic context of apathy.

Original publication




Journal article


Rev Neurol (Paris)

Publication Date



Apathy, Decision-making, Effort, Motivation, Persistence