Brain Scan Studies

Brain scan studies are now revealing how the brains of patients with diabetes are being altered. Chinese researchers conducted MRI studies and found deficiencies in working memory in patients with diabetes and the relation between cognitive function and degree of neuronal activity and their relevance to Alzheimer’s risk.5

In this particular study, the researchers found that patients with diabetes exhibited worse executive and memory abilities than control patients. In addition, the patterns of brain activation changed under different working memory loads in those with diabetes. 

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The study also showed that patients with diabetes exhibited reduced activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus under low loads and reduced activation in the left middle frontal gyrus and superior frontal gyrus under high loads. 

In light of these findings, the researchers reported that longitudinal studies are now warranted to replicate these results and to evaluate the clinical value of brain imaging methods in the prediction of disease progression in those with diabetes.

“The MCI patients with diabetes showed more diffused functional changes in a variety of brain regions including the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the hippocampus, the amygdala and the precuneus during a resting state than the MCI patients without diabetes. All these studies draw us a definite and defined conclusion that type 2 diabetes destroys (the) central nervous system, especially in the brain,” study author Zhanjun Zhang, MD, who is with Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, told Endocrinology Advisor

He said endocrinologists now have enough evidence to strongly counsel their patients with type 1 diabetes about the fact that they are at significantly higher risk for memory impairment if they are not vigilant in managing their disease.

“We already know that reasonable diet and adequate exercise are very beneficial and effective approaches to control glucose levels. Our previous study also found that healthy diet and greater involvement in physical, intellectual, and social activities are associated with a lower risk of MCI,” said Dr. Zhang.


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  3. Crane PK et al. N Engl J Med. 2013;369:540-548.
  4. Winkler A et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;doi:10.3233/JAD-140696.
  5. Chen Y et al. Diabetes Care. 2014;doi:10.2337/dc14-1683.