Changes of Cognition and Regional Cerebral Activity During Acute Hypoglycemia in Normal Subjects: A H215O Positron Emission Tomographic Study

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Blurred vision and cognitive difficulties are prominent symptoms during acute insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Our hypothesis was that changes in cerebral activity reflect these symptoms. Positron emission tomography (PET) with oxygen-15-labelled water was used to measure relative changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) as a marker of cerebral activity. Hypoglycemia was induced by intravenous insulin infusion in 19 healthy men performing two different cognitive tasks of varying complexity. The hypoglycemic stimulus [plasma glucose 2.2 mmol/liter (0.4)] produced a significant hormonal counterregulatory response. During the low cognitive load, rCBF decreased in response to hypoglycemia in a large bilateral area in the posterior part of the temporal lobe, and rCBF increased bilaterally in the anterior cingulate gyrus, the right frontal gyrus, the fusiform gyrus, thalamus, and the left inferior part of the frontal gyrus. During the high cognitive load, rCBF decreased bilaterally in a large region in the posterior part of the temporal gyrus and increased in the left and right anterior cingulate gyrus, left and right frontal gyrus, right parahippocampal and lingual gyrus, and left superior temporal gyrus. Visual impairment during hypoglycemia was associated with deactivation in the ventral visual stream. The anterior cingulate gyrus was activated during hypoglycemia in a load-dependent manner. Areas on the frontal convexity were differentially activated in response to the cognitive load during hypoglycemia. Our findings suggest that hypoglycemia induces changes in sensory processing in a cognition-independent manner, whereas activation of areas of higher order functions is influenced by cognitive load as well as hypoglycemia.

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