Impact of diabetes on cognitive function and brain structure

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Sep;1353:60-71. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12807. Epub 2015 Jul 1.


Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have been associated with reduced performance on multiple domains of cognitive function and with structural abnormalities in the brain. With an aging population and a growing epidemic of diabetes, central nervous system-related complications of diabetes are expected to rise and could have challenging future public health implications. In this review, we will discuss the brain structural and functional changes that have been associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes duration and glycemic control may play important roles in the development of cognitive impairment in diabetes, but the exact underlying pathophysiological mechanisms causing these changes in cognition and structure are not well understood. Future research is needed to better understand the natural history and the underlying mechanisms, as well as to identify risk factors that predict who is at greatest risk of developing cognitive impairment. This information will lead to the development of new strategies to minimize the impact of diabetes on cognitive function.

Keywords: brain; cognitive dysfunction; memory; type 1 diabetes mellitus; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Humans