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Blood sugar processing tied to brain problems

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11:42am, March 5, 2003

People with diabetes experience more short-term-memory problems on average than do people without the disease. Researchers now report that some nondiabetic people who nevertheless have slightly elevated blood sugar concentrations also have short-term memory impairment.

Moreover, these people have a smaller hippocampus on average than do those without high blood sugar, report Antonio Convit, a psychiatrist at the Nathan Kline Research Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, N.Y., and his colleagues. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that retrieves short-term memories, such as what one had for breakfast.

The findings, which appear in the Feb. 18 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could explain some memory lapses in elderly people who otherwise appear healthy, says Convit.

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