Poster B35, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Vascular Risk Factors for Diabetes in Late Adolescents and Young Adults, an Assessment of Working Memory
Alexandra Roach1, Heather Nall1, Juliette Seremak1; 1University of South Carolina Aiken
Older adults diagnosed with diabetes are at a greater risk for developing cognitive deficit than normal age-related cognitive decline. Given that diabetes is a progressive disease, it is important to understand whether its effects are detectable prior to a formal diagnosis. We investigated whether a relationship between vascular risk factors for diabetes and cognition exist even in healthy young adults. We collected blood pressure (BPs = systolic, BPd = diastolic), blood glucose levels (BGL), and calculated body mass index (BMI) for 55 undergraduate volunteers, and analyzed their effects on working memory. We used an n-back task to assess working memory with 3 levels of cognitive load. Stimuli included letters appearing in succession, and participants were asked to respond when the current stimulus was a target (i.e., matched the item 0-, 1-, or 2-back). Accuracy data were subjected to a repeated-measures ANCOVA on log-normalized d’ where cognitive load was the within-subjects factor, and BPs, BPd, BGL, and BMI were covariates. We found a main effect of cognitive load, F(1.52, 71.43) = 8.9 (p = .001), and a trend towards significance for BGL, F(1.52, 71.43) = 3.07 (p = .066) and BPs, F(1.52, 71.43) = 2.58 (p = .097). These results demonstrate that, while vascular risk factors in young adults are not significant predictors of working memory performance, there is a degree of influence on performance indicating that, even in healthy young adults, these vascular risk factors may initiate systemic neurological changes much earlier in disease progression than previously thought.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory