Diabetes slows some aspects of mental function

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Type 2 diabetes may put the brakes on people’s ability to process certain types of information quickly and precisely, according to a new study investigating how the illness affects brain power.

Dr. Roger Dixon of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and his colleagues found small but significant differences between people with diabetes and their healthy peers on some tests of brain function and speed.

“The deficits we observed in this study are not likely to adversely affect most older diabetes patients’ everyday life activities,” Dixon told Reuters Health. “However, the cognitive slowing we observed could indicate the ‘leading edge’ of progressive and broader cognitive decline occurring with diabetes in late life. In a three-year follow-up to these patients, we found the present effects continued, deepened, and broadened.”

Dixon’s team had 465 men and women between 55 and 81 years old, 41 of whom had diabetes, complete several tests of memory, learning and executive function.

While people with type 2 diabetes did just as well as their healthier peers on tests of memory, fluency, reaction time, and perceptual speed, they fared worse on some tests of executive functioning. Specifically, they weren’t as quick on a task that required them to complete a sentence with a single word or provide a word that didn’t complete the sentence properly. They also took longer on a test that required them to read a string of letters and state whether the letters spelled an English word, and another test requiring them to read sentences and say whether or not they were “plausible or nonsensical.”

It’s not clear how diabetes might influence brain function, Dixon said, but the effect of the disease on blood vessels may be a factor, and some researchers have proposed that insulin and blood sugar regulation and variability could also play a role.

People can likely compensate for the degree of mental decline identified in the current study, Dixon said, by managing their diabetes, using their brain, and staying physically active.

SOURCE: Neuropsychology, January 2009.


Related Posts:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research shows that among the mental abilities that are affected by type 2 diabetes, the speed at which the brain processes information appears to be the most severely impaired, particularly in patients with undiagnosed disease. Findings from several studies have linked type 2 diabetes with cognitive dysfunction. However, it was

Full Post: Type 2 diabetes may slow mental processing speed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Diabetes can slow the brain, causing trouble with two types of mental processing in adults of all ages, Canadian researchers reported on Wednesday. Healthy adults did significantly better than diabetics on two tests of mental functioning — executive functioning and speed of response, the team at the University of Alberta found. “Speed and executive

Full Post: Diabetes can slow the brain, study finds

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Regular aerobic exercise can not only stave off the decline in brain function that often comes with age, it can also help turn back the clock on brain aging, two experts in the field report, based on a critical review of published studies. Age-related deterioration in the all-important white and gray

Full Post: Aerobic activity may reverse mental decline

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect women from developing type 2 diabetes, but the effect of alcohol on inflammation and blood vessel function doesn’t appear to explain the relationship, new research suggests. Dr. Joline W. J. Beulens of University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, and colleagues found that adiponectin —

Full Post: Inflammation not a factor in drinking-diabetes link

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A dangerous type of snoring known as sleep apnea can cause stroke by decreasing blood flow, raising blood pressure and harming the brain’s ability to modulate these changes, researchers reported on Tuesday. The study may help explain why people with sleep apnea are more likely to have

Full Post: Study shows how sleep apnea may cause stroke

Site Navigation

Most Read



  • kinwrite.com@gmail.com