Changes in the brain that occur with diabetes lead to cognitive impairment, says scientist and medical writer Alex Kadner on Brain Blogger.
In people with type 1 diabetes, the reduced cognitive performance becomes apparent in childhood in the form of reduced psychomotor ability or speed, attention, memory and verbal IQ scores. The factors that most affect the intelligence of people with type 1 diabetes are age at diagnosis and glycemic control. Diagnosis before the age of 4 is associated with impaired executive skills, attention, and processing speed, most likely because the development of the brain is disrupted by the metabolic disturbance caused by diabetes. Notably, academic performance improves with better glycemic control.
In people with type 2 diabetes, the neurocognitive deficits are decreased psychomotor speed complex motor function, executive functions, memory skills, immediate and delayed recall, verbal fluency, attention, visuospatial ability. A recent study found a significantly accelerated of decline for verbal knowledge and verbal memory, but the use of oral diabetes medications was associated with relatively better cognitive function.