Study Links Type 2 Diabetes to Reduced Cognitive Function

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Cognitive FunctionDeveloping type 2 diabetes can lead to reduced cognitive function in as little as two years, according to a study published in a recent online issue of the American Academy of Neurology’s journal Neurology.

The study conducted tests for cognition and memory, as well as MRI brain scans, on 40 participants with an average age of 66. Of the 40 participants, 19 had type 2 diabetes and received treatment for an average of 13 years, while 21 of the participants didn’t have diabetes. All of the individuals were tested at the start of the study and then again two years afterward.

The findings reveal that at the two-year mark, diabetics were less able to regulate the flow of blood in the brain, which is believed to be the reason why they demonstrated lower scores on many of the tests that evaluated their thinking and memory skills. Diabetics with unregulated blood flow at the start of the study also demonstrated significant declines in their ability to carry out daily tasks, such as cooking and bathing.

Among the individuals with diabetes, blood flow in the brain reduced by 65%. Concerning the learning and memory tests, the diabetics’ scores dropped by 12% (from 46 to 41 points), whereas the scores of the non-diabetics remained at 55 throughout the study.

The numbers show that two years is all it takes for type 2 diabetes to impact cognitive function, because of the way the disease impacts the brain’s ability to regulate blood flow. In healthy patients, normal blood flow enables the brain to properly redistribute the blood to regions that need it to perform certain tasks. But for diabetics, the impaired regulation of blood flow is believed to impose negatively on this process.

Further studies over longer periods of time are still needed to determine the true impact of type 2 diabetes on changes in memory and other cognitive skills.

Source for Today’s article:
“Long-term effects of type 2 diabetes on the brain, thinking,” Science Daily web site, July 8, 2015;