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Altered Brain Activation Patterns in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Participants performed significantly worse on the working memory tasks….

Type 2 diabetes can be associated with cognitive impairment and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. No studies have yet shown how type 2 diabetes affects working memory task and is related to brain function.

The study used participants from the Beijing Aging Brain Rejuvenation Initiative (BARBI). Participants had scores >24 on the mini mental state examination (MMSE) Chinese version, no less than 6 years of education, no history of coronary disease, nephritis, tumors, gastrointestinal disease, psychiatric illness and the ability to meet the physical demands of the imaging procedure. A total of 67 participants met the criteria — 30 participants with diabetes and 37 healthy participants as a control group. All participants were assessed on cognitive performance through a visual n-back task and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Compared with the control group, participants with type 2 diabetes performed significantly worse on the working memory tasks (backward digit span P=0.027; digit span P=0.05) and function task (P=0.045). Participants with type 2 diabetes showed a reduced activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus under low loads, and in the left middle frontal gyrus and superior frontal gyrus under high loads.

Practice Pearls:

  • Decreased brain activity was associated with worse cognitive performance in type 2 diabetes patients.
  • Lower SFG activation was associated with worse cognitive function.
  • More regions of diminished activation were seen in the frontal cortex with increasing task difficulty.

Chen Y, Liu Z, Zhang J, et al. “Altered Brain Activation Patterns under different working memory loads in patients with type 2 diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. November 17, 2014. “http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/12/3157.full”