Cognitive Processes in Insulin-dependent Diabetes

  1. Nicola Canal, M.D.
  1. Departments of Neurology and Diabetology, School of Medicine, University of Milan, S. Raffaele Hospital V. Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy.
  1. Address reprint requests to Dr. Massimo Franceschi at the above address.


Cognitive processes in a group of neurologically asymptomatic patients with relativelysevere but uncomplicated insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) were studied. In comparison with a homogeneous group of normoglycemic controls, the diabetic group performed significantly worse in global memory, abstract reasoning, and eye-hand coordination tests. The two groups scored similarly in intelligence, concentration and attention, spatial, visual, and psychomotor tests. The neuropsychological deficits did not correlate with the duration or the severity of the disease. Whether these mild neuropsychological deficits are transient or stable or whether they are caused by central nervous system vascular or metabolic dysfunctions or by the emotional influence of the chronic illness on the intellectual and educational development of patients remains unclear. Our findings need to be cautiously interpreted and perhaps could not be extended to diabetic patients with better metabolic control.

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