Emerging data demonstrate pivotal roles for brain insulin resistance and insulin deficiency as mediators of cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD). Insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) regulate neuronal survival, energy metabolism, and plasticity, which are required for learning and memory. Hence, endogenous brain-specific impairments in insulin and IGF signaling account for the majority of AD-associated abnormalities. However, a second major mechanism of cognitive impairment has been linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Human and experimental animal studies revealed that neurodegeneration associated with peripheral insulin resistance is likely effectuated via a liver-brain axis whereby toxic lipids, including ceramides, cross the blood brain barrier and cause brain insulin resistance, oxidative stress, neuro-inflammation, and cell death. In essence, there are dual mechanisms of brain insulin resistance leading to AD-type neurodegeneration: one mediated by endogenous, CNS factors; and the other, peripheral insulin resistance with excess cytotoxic ceramide production.