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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Sugar Blues

Air Date: Week of

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Using new MRI technology, researchers have found subtle brain differences in people who suffer from diabetes,which could explain the depression that afflicts so many diabetes patients. Emily Taylor reports.


CURWOOD: Coming up: monitoring the effects of climate change on rooibos tea plants in South Africa. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Emily Taylor.

TAYLOR: Feeling sweet, but a little low? Scientists working in conjunction with the Joslin Diabetes Center have new evidence that some people living with Type 1 diabetes have subtle differences in parts of their brain which, down the road, may be responsible for depression in diabetes patients.

Using a new three-dimensional form of magnetic resonance imaging called voxel-based morphometry, or VBM, scientists were able to take very sensitive measurements of small areas of the brain. What they found was a lower density of gray matter in certain areas of the brains of the diabetes patients. They were also able to associate this less-dense area with inferior glycemic control.

Although no changes were found in processing functions, the researchers believe that similar brain damage, caused by diabetes, may be responsible for the common depression among diabetes sufferers who suffer from depression at twice the rate of the general public.

Depression in diabetes patients was originally attributed to the increased stresses found among people living with the disease. The VBM technology may be able to prove that it's the result of actual brain damage from diabetes and just may help explain those "sugar lows." That's this week's Note on Emerging Science, I'm Emily Taylor.



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