How Type 2 Diabetes Affects the Brain
Reductions in both insulin production and an impaired physiological response to insulin release, which lead to elevated blood sugar, are hallmarks of type 2 diabetes. Less well-known are the cognitive effects of the metabolic disorder. “Diabetes does affect a number of cognitive domains, the main being executive functions, memory, learning, and concentration,” said Rodrigo Mansur, a psychiatry clinical and research fellow at the University of Toronto.
These effects aren’t always dramatic, explained Yong-Wook Shin, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in South Korea. When it comes to the brain, he said, type 2 diabetes has “a subtle effect, but it can be detected.”
That type 2 diabetes can affect memory, learning, and concentration makes sense, according to computational cognitive neuroscientist Dae-Jin Kim of the Indiana University Bloomington. “Our brain consumes about 25 percent of the blood in our body,” he noted. “So, the glucose in our blood should affect our brain the most.”
Two recent studies have approached this diabetes-brain connection from different angles. The first, published last month (June 23) in PLOS ONE, examined brain communication in patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.
“In terms of the brain architecture,” said Indiana University’s Kim, an author of the study, “it can be assumed that specific functions are happening in single brain regions. For example, our vision is located in the visual cortex of the brain and our auditory function is located in temporal regions of br Continue reading