Patients with Type 2 diabetes are known to be more susceptible to experience dementia and depression/anxiety. The neural circuits of emotional conflict monitoring, as indicated by a Stroop task, might become altered in terms of cognitive and affective impairments in diabetes. This study investigated alterations in the emotional conflict monitoring and associations of corresponding brain activities with metabolic parameters in persons with Type 2 diabetes. Participants with normal cognitive and affective functioning, including 40 persons with Type 2 diabetes and 30 non-diabetes control subjects, underwent a functional MRI paradigm with the face-word emotional Stroop task and detailed cognitive and affective assessments, including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Beck Anxiety Inventory. Compared with the controls, people with diabetes exhibited stronger emotional interference, as indicated by differential reaction times between congruent and incongruent trials (Δcon). Δcon was correlated with Montreal Cognitive Assessment test scores and fasting glucose levels. People with diabetes demonstrated altered brain activation and functional connectivity in the neural network for emotional conflict monitoring. The neural network for emotional conflict monitoring mediated the association of pancreatic function with anxiety scores as well as the relationship between Δcon and Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores. Results suggested that alterations in the neural network underlying emotional conflict monitoring might present before clinically measurable cognitive and affective decrements were apparent, thereby bridging the gap between dementia and anxiety/depression in persons with diabetes.
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