Relationship between Insulin-Resistance Processing Speed and Specific Executive Function Profiles in Neurologically Intact Older Adults

Darvis T. Frazier, Brianne M. Bettcher, Shubir Dutt, Nihar Patel, Dan M Mungas, Joshua Miller, Ralph Green, Joel H. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study investigated the relationship between insulin-resistance and constituent components of executive function in a sample of neurologically intact older adult subjects using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) and latent factors of working memory, cognitive control and processing speed derived from confirmatory factor analysis. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), mean arterial pressure (MAP), along with body mass index (BMI) and white matter hypointensity (WMH) were used to control for vascular risk factors, adiposity and cerebrovascular injury. The study included 119 elderly subjects recruited from the University of California, San Francisco Memory and Aging Center. Subjects underwent neuropsychological assessment, fasting blood draw and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Partial correlations and linear regression models were used to examine the HOMA-IR-executive function relationship. Pearson correlation adjusting for age showed a significant relationship between HOMA-IR and working memory (r p=-.18; p=.047), a trend with cognitive control (r p=-.17; p=.068), and no relationship with processing speed (r p=.013; p=.892). Linear regression models adjusting for demographic factors (age, education, and gender), LDL, MAP, BMI, and WMH indicated that HOMA-IR was negatively associated with cognitive control (r=-.256; p=.026) and working memory (r=-.234; p=.054). These results suggest a greater level of peripheral insulin-resistance is associated with decreased cognitive control and working memory. After controlling for demographic factors, vascular risk, adiposity and cerebrovascular injury, HOMA-IR remained significantly associated with cognitive control, with working memory showing a trend. These findings substantiate the insulin-resistance-executive function hypothesis and suggest a complex interaction, demonstrated by the differential impact of insulin-resistance on processing speed and specific aspects of executive function. (JINS, 2015, 21, 622-628)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-628
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 7 2015


  • Cognitive control
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Executive function
  • Homeostatic model assessment
  • Insulin-resistance
  • Processing speed
  • White matter hypointensity
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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