Auditory information processing during acute insulin-induced hypoglycaemia in non-diabetic human subjects

Rory J. McCrimmon, Ian J. Deary (Lead / Corresponding author), Brian M. Frier

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    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Acute insulin-induced hypoglycaemia impairs performance on tests of general mental ability in humans. It is recognized that different brain functions vary in their sensitivity to neuroglycopenia, but little is known about the effects of neuroglycopenia on specific brain processes. The effect of controlled hypoglycaemia on two aspects of auditory information processing (auditory temporal processing and simple auditory processing) was examined in a homogeneous group of 20 healthy non-diabetic human subjects. Auditory temporal processing (temporal order discrimination) and simple auditory processing (pitch discrimination, single-tone duration and single-tone loudness discrimination) tests were part of the Test of Basic Auditory Capabilities (TBAC). Two tests of general cognitive performance (Digit Symbol Substitution and Trail Making B) were included to provide a measure of general brain functioning during hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia lead to a significant deterioration in auditory temporal processing (P <0.01), and a deterioration in one of three tasks of simple auditory processing (discrimination of single-tone loudness, P <0.05). Significant disruptions also occurred in both tests of general brain functioning. These results are congruent with other studies in human subjects, showing a disruptive effect of hypoglycaemia on visual information processing when examined under conditions of limited perceptual time, and they provide further evidence of the importance of sensory processing speed in basic perceptual and cognitive functions. The disruptive effect of moderate insulin-induced hypoglycaemia on auditory perception may have implications for insulin-treated diabetic humans exposed to this metabolic stress, because of the importance of hearing in everyday life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1547-1553
    Number of pages7
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


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