Type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment: contributions from neuroimaging

J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2014 Mar;27(1):47-55. doi: 10.1177/0891988713516543. Epub 2014 Jan 5.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and Alzheimer disease (AD) are major public health burdens associated with aging. As the age of the population rapidly increases, a sheer increase in the incidence of these diseases is expected. Research has identified T2D as a risk factor for cognitive impairment and potentially AD, but the neurobiological pathways that are affected are only beginning to be understood. The rapid advances in neuroimaging in the past decade have added significant understanding to how T2D affects brain structure and function and possibly lead to AD. This article provides a review of studies that have utilized structural and functional neuroimaging to identify neural pathways that link T2D to impaired cognitive performance and potentially AD. A primary focus of this article is the potential for neuroimaging to assist in understanding the mechanistic pathways that may provide translational opportunities for clinical intervention.

Keywords: cognitive impairment; neuroimaging; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / pathology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Risk Factors