A new article entitled “Self-reported diabetes is associated with allocentric spatial processing in the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia Longitudinal Cohort Study” has recently been published in the European Journal of Neuroscience
Having diabetes is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. In this article, authors wanted to understand whether people with diabetes in the EPAD cohort performed worse on tasks which pick up the earliest signs of cognitive impairment compared to those without diabetes. They compared 90 people with diabetes to over 1,000 without in the EPAD Longitudinal Cohort Study (LCS), and used data from their baseline (first) visit. The memory and thinking task authors were mainly interested in was the Four Mountain Test. In this test people are shown a scene of four mountains, and then on a second screen asked to indicate which of four new pictures presented shows the same place as the first- this tests something called allocentric processing. They also used data from the RBANS test, which is a collection of different tasks which gives us information on memory, attention, visual-spatial processing and language. They found that people with diabetes performed worse on the Four Mountains Test compared to people without diabetes (with approximately one point difference). They also found that in general people with diabetes performed worse on all tests of the RBANS compared to those without diabetes. To understand if this was specific to diabetes, or generally related with other cardiovascular conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure, authors also tested to see how people with these conditions performed. Although there were some tests where people with obesity or high blood pressure also performed more poorly than people without these conditions, only the Four Mountains Test and difficulties with attention were seen in people with diabetes. So what might this mean? They think future research should also look at the Four Mountains Test in people with diabetes to see if similar results can be found. If other studies do find similar results this may mean this is a good test to use in a higher risk population to find people at risk for developing later memory and thinking problems.
Congratulations to all authors: Sarah Gregory, Kaj Blennow, Natalie Z. M. Homer, Craig W. Ritchie, Graciela Muniz-Terrera
You can read the paper here.