Skip to content

Long-term human study shows detrimental effect diabetes has on brain plasticity.

A new neuroimaging study has shown that in just two years people with type 2 diabetes experienced negative changes in their ability to regulate blood flow in the brain This was also associated with lower scores on tests of cognition skills and their ability to perform their daily activities, according to researchers led by Harvard Medical School.  The team state that normal blood flow regulation allows the brain to redistribute blood to areas of the brain that have increased activity while performing certain tasks. They go on to add that previous studies show that people with type 2 diabetes have impaired blood flow regulation.  Their results suggest that diabetes and high blood sugar impose a chronic negative effect on cognitive and decision-making skills.  The study is published in the journal Neurology.

The current study involved 40 people with an average age of 66. Of those, 19 had type 2 diabetes and 21 did not have diabetes. Those with diabetes had been treated for the disease for an average of 13 years. The participants were tested at the beginning of the study and again two years later. Tests included MRI scans of the brain to look at brain volume and blood flow, and blood tests to measure control of blood sugar and inflammation.  This was also followed up with observational psychiatric tests such as cognition and memory tests.

The results showed that after two years, the people with diabetes had decreases in their ability to regulate blood flow in the brain. They also had lower scores on several tests of memory and thinking skills. The data findings showed that people with lower ability to regulate blood flow at the beginning of the study had greater declines in a measure of how well they could complete daily activities such as bathing and cooking.  The team state that higher levels of inflammation were also associated with greater decreases in blood flow regulation, even if people had good control of their diabetes and blood pressure.

In the current study on a test of learning and memory, the scores of the people with diabetes decreased by 12 percent, from 46 points to 41 points over two years, while the scores of those without diabetes stayed the same, at 55 points. These results suggest that blood flow regulation in the brain was decreased by 65 percent in people with diabetes.

The researchers surmise that early detection and monitoring of blood flow regulation may be an important predictor of accelerated changes in cognitive and decision-making skills.  They go on to conclude that additional studies involving more people and extending for a longer time period are needed to better understand the relationship and timing with blood flow regulation and changes in thinking and memory skills.

Source:  The American Academy of Neurology 


Study Shows Long-Term Effects of Type 2 Diabetes on the Brain, Thinking - neuroinnovations

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio,, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

One thought on “Long-term human study shows detrimental effect diabetes has on brain plasticity. Leave a comment

  1. The neuroinvasive viral load was not noted or measured. Regardless of control or placebo group, the Neuro invasive viral RNA proliferation contribute in the Atherosclerotic disease ( Dr. Crumpacker, Harvard School of Med. 2009).
    Prof. Dr. Shahid H. Sheikh.

Leave a Reply

Translate »