DAMAGE TO BRAIN IN TYPE 2 DIABETES LINKED TO MEMORY, LEARNING ISSUES

Nicole Milne Diabetes Research[1].jpgWest Australian researchers have discovered the cognitive impact of type 2 diabetes is likely to be caused by damage to the right-hand side of an area of the brain linked to memory and learning.

Cognitive problems – such as memory difficulties, poor attention, and slower speed of thought – are known to be more common in those with type 2 diabetes.

The condition also brings with it an increased risk of developing dementia but the cause of these brain-related changes are unknown.

The new WA study, funded by a Diabetes Research WA top-up scholarship and published in the Brain & Behavior journal*, looked at cognitive functioning in 120 dementia-free older adults with longstanding type 2 diabetes.

It revealed, using MRI brain scans, that in those participants who had one side of the hippocampus larger than the other, it was the right-hand side that was smaller.

This is the reverse of the expected direction seen with normal ageing and in Alzheimer’s disease, where the right hippocampus is usually larger than the left,” said University of Western Australia School of Psychological Science PhD candidate Nicole Milne.

“What this suggests is that in type 2 diabetes, this area of the brain is more vulnerable to damage, resulting in significantly poorer cognitive functioning.”

Ms Milne said earlier phases of the study also revealed that slower thinking skills and right hippocampal abnormalities in those with type 2 diabetes could be an early warning sign of dementia and that type 2 diabetes could dramatically affect the everyday thinking skills of up to one-in-three adults aged 60 and older.

“What remains to be uncovered is exactly what is causing this damage to occur in those with type 2 diabetes and by investigating that, it may open up new ways of preventing such devastating consequences,” she said.

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund described the research as powerful.

“Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health issue that can put an incredible amount of stress on those living with it – and not all cases can be prevented with diet and exercise – so any research that gives hope of being able to lessen that impact is no doubt going to make a huge difference to the lives of so many,” she said.

The research used data collected over a three-year period from participants taking part in the NHMRC-funded CANDID Study, and was supervised by Professor Romola Bucks, UWA School ofPsychological Science, and Winthrop Professor David Bruce, UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology.

Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes and another 280 Australians develop it every day. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% cases of diabetes, with rates of the condition increasing in Australia.

West Australian researchers have discovered the cognitive impact of type 2 diabetes is likely to be caused by damage to the right hand side of an area of the brain linked to memory and learning.

 Cognitive problems – such as memory difficulties, poor attention, and slower speed of thought – are known to be more common in those with type 2 diabetes.

 The condition also brings with it an increased risk of developing dementia but the cause of these brain-related changes are unknown.

The new WA study, funded by a Diabetes Research WA top-up scholarship and published in the Brain & Behavior journal*, looked at cognitive functioning in 120 dementia-free older adults with longstanding type 2 diabetes.

It revealed, using MRI brain scans, that in those participants who had one side of the hippocampus larger than the other, it was the right hand side that was smaller.

This is the reverse of the expected direction seen with normal ageing and in Alzheimer’s disease, where the right hippocampus is usually larger than the left,” said University of Western Australia School of Psychological Science PhD candidate Nicole Milne.

“What this suggests is that in type 2 diabetes, this area of the brain is more vulnerable to damage, resulting in significantly poorer cognitive functioning.”

Ms Milne said earlier phases of the study also revealed that slower thinking skills and right hippocampal abnormalities in those with type 2 diabetes could be an early warning sign of dementia and that type 2 diabetes could dramatically affect the everyday thinking skills of up to one-in-three adults aged 60 and older.

“What remains to be uncovered is exactly what is causing this damage to occur in those with type 2 diabetes and by investigating that, it may open up new ways of preventing such devastating consequences,” she said.

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund described the research as powerful.

“Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health issue that can put an incredible amount of stress on those living with it – and not all cases can be prevented with diet and exercise – so any research that gives hope of being able to lessen that impact is no doubt going to make a huge difference to the lives of so many,” she said.

The research used data collected over a three-year period from participants taking part in the NHMRC-funded CANDID Study, and was supervised by Professor Romola Bucks, UWA School ofPsychological Science, and Winthrop Professor David Bruce, UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology.

Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes and another 280 Australians develop it every day. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% cases of diabetes, with rates of the condition increasing in Australia.

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