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Posted by on Jun 7, 2015 in Diabetes mellitus | 1 comment

In a nutshell

This study examined the effects of low blood sugar levels on the working memory and language in type 1 diabetics.

Some background

Low blood glucose (sugar) levels can result in impaired brain function. During periods of low blood glucose, it is believed that the brain areas controlling working memory and language are affected. The working memory is the system that holds new information and integrates this with information stored in long-term memory. Language involves numerous processes, including the integration, comprehension and formulation of speech. Patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can experience slurred speech and difficulties with language during episodes of low blood glucose levels.

Methods & findings

This study aimed to determine the effect which low blood glucose levels have on the various aspects of language. This study involved 40 participants divided into 2 groups. 50% of participants were T1D patients, while the other 50% did not have diabetes.

All participants took part in two sessions. During one session, participants were injected with insulin to lower blood glucose levels to normal. During the other session, blood sugar levels were lower than normal (hypoglycemia). Language tests were performed to assess the relationship between working memory and language. Language tests were also performed to assess comprehension (reading pace and grammar).

Patients with T1D performed worse on tests of working memory with very low blood glucose levels. With low blood glucose levels, T1D patients were able to remember fewer words and had more difficulty with grammar than those without diabetes. Low blood glucose levels did not affect sentence comprehension in T1D patients.

The bottom line

This study concluded that low blood glucose causes a decline in working memory and also affects grammar in T1D patients. 

The fine print

The sample size of 40 participants was quite small and a larger size would have been ideal.

What’s next?

Consult your physician regarding the measures which can be taken to prevent low blood glucose levels.

Published By :

Diabetes Care

Date :

Mar 10, 2015

Original Title :

Effects of Acute Hypoglycemia on Working Memory and Language Processing in Adults With and Without Type 1 Diabetes.

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