It is now generally accepted that diabetes increases the risk for cognitive impairment, but the precise mechanisms are poorly understood. A critical problem in linking diabetes to cognitive impairment is that patients often have multiple comorbidities (e.g., obesity, hypertension) that have been independently linked to cognitive deficits. In the study reported here we focused on young adults with and without type 1 diabetes who were virtually free of such comorbidities. The two groups were matched on major health and demographic factors, and all participants completed a verbal working memory task during magnetoencephalographic brain imaging. We hypothesized that patients would have altered neural dynamics in verbal working memory processing and that these differences would directly relate to clinical disease measures. Accordingly, we found that patients had significantly stronger neural responses in the superior parietal cortices during memory encoding and significantly weaker activity in parietal-occipital regions during maintenance compared with control subjects. Moreover, disease duration and glycemic control were both significantly correlated with neural responses in various brain regions. In conclusion, young healthy adults with type 1 diabetes already have aberrant neural processing relative to their peers without diabetes, using compensatory responses to perform the task, and glucose management and duration may play a central role.
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.