Only last week a guy who had been following my research and my posts on twitter, contacted me via my student email with some questions he was having trouble finding answers. In brief this man was wondering about how bouts of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, can impair cognitive performance in people living with diabetes, and if subsequently there were any long-term effects from this. Well, fortunately for this reader, some of my research at the moment is focusing on immediate (short-term) cognitive performance impairments resulting from hypos.
Although I have not started any practical studies yet to examine the extent of how cognitive functions/performance have been impaired in relation to drop in blood glucose levels, I have done extensive background readings of similar studies and gotten a strong understanding of what to expect when it comes to practical studies. In brief, yes there is definitely a decrease/impairment to normal cognitive functions/performance when blood glucose levels decrease below the desired 6mmol/l. However, the extent to which the cognitive performance is impaired in relation to the level of decrease per mmol/l is still unclear. It has also been argued that the level of impairment of pancreatic function an insulin sensitivity, as well as the individuals genetic make-up is a major contributing factor in the level of cognitive impairment.
The opposite end of the spectrum is cognitive impairments resulting from hyperglycemia. Studies have shown a reduction in speed of information processing, working memory, and some aspects of attention were impaired during acute hyperglycemia. Subjects were significantly more dysphoric during hyperglycemia, with reduced energetic arousal and increased sadness and anxiety. This only increases the emphasis and value of accurate and well timed management of diabetes.
If you ever have any questions, or wish to just keep up to date on the latest work, then follow me on Twitter @DeanMinnock