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Moderate Hypoglycemia Impacts Language Processing

Significant deterioration in reading span, accuracy of subject-verb agreement with hypoglycemia

MONDAY, March 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Moderate hypoglycemia is associated with deterioration in language processing in adults with and without type 1 diabetes, according to a study published online March 10 in Diabetes Care.

Kate V. Allen, from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the effects of hypoglycemia on language processing in 20 adults with type 1 diabetes and 20 healthy volunteers. The effects of hypoglycemia on the correlation between working memory and language (reading span), grammatical decoding (self-paced reading), and grammatical encoding (subject-verb agreement) were examined using language tests.

The researchers found that there was a significant deterioration in reading span and a decrease in correct responses with hypoglycemia. During hypoglycemia, the reading time for the first sentence fragment increased on the self-paced reading test; for the reading of the next fragment, hypoglycemia had more of an effect on healthy volunteers than on adults with type 1 diabetes. Neither the number of errors in sentence comprehension nor the time taken to answer questions was significantly affected by hypoglycemia. There was a deterioration of subject-verb agreement with hypoglycemia.

“Hypoglycemia caused a significant deterioration in reading span and in the accuracy of subject-verb agreement, both of which are practical aspects of language involved in its everyday use,” the authors write. “Language processing is therefore impaired during moderate hypoglycemia.”

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