The Impact of Diabetes on Cerebral Structure and Function

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Diabetes alters cerebral metabolism, structure, and function. Both hyperglycemia and therapy-associated hypoglycemia are believed to have an impact on the brain, and this impact may depend on the age of the individual, their stage of neurological development, and whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Hypoglycemia in children with Type 1 has consistently been associated with a reduction in neurocognitive function, but such a finding has not been seen in adults with Type 1 diabetes. Both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia have been linked with dementia in adults with Type 2 diabetes. In both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, recurrent episodes of treatment-associated hypoglycemia impair how well the brain can sense and respond to subsequent episodes of hypoglycemia. In this brief review, we will review how diabetes affects the brain with a focus on investigations done in our own laboratory. We have focused on using high magnetic field imaging and spectroscopy to identify subtle changes in brain structure and metabolism that may contribute to the long-term cerebral complications of diabetes. We have found evidence of microstructural changes in white matter regions, reduced gray matter density, and reduced activation of the thalamus in response to recurrent hypoglycemia in patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-621
Number of pages6
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 13 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • brain structure
  • cerebral metabolism
  • cognition
  • diabetes
  • magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy


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