School of Psychological Science

Postgraduate Profiles


Nicole Milne

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 4508

Start date

Feb 2012

Submission date

Feb 2016


Nicole Milne

Nicole Milne profile photo


Predictors of cognitive decline in Type 2 diabetes


Older adults with Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, or a combination of the two. Deficits in information processing speed, memory, attention, and executive functioning are consistently found in patients with T2DM, but there is a lack of longitudinal data assessing the trajectory of cognitive decline in this group

Potential causal factors for dementia in T2DM include heightened susceptibility to cerebral beta-amyloid deposition and cerebrovascular damage. Two subcortical structures, the amygdala and hippocampus, have been identified as the first sites of neurodegeneration in diabetes and in dementia. However, the relationships between beta-amyloid, subcortical atrophy and cognitive decline have not yet been studied in T2DM.

The purpose of the research is to identify pathophysiological and neuropsychological predictors of clinically-rated cognitive decline in older adults with T2DM. The research will comprise cross-sectional and longitundal studies, and will examine data obtained through repeat clinical and cognitive assessments, neuroimaging (MRI), and blood sample analysis (plasma beta-amyloid level). It is hypothesised that the longitudinal relationship between beta-amyloid and cognitive decline is mediated by volume loss in the amygdala and hippocampus.

Why my research is important

Over the past decade, the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in Australia has tripled. Due to the combined effects of an upward trend in the prevalence of T2DM and an ageing population, the number of people with diabetes-related cognitive decline is likely to rise rapidly in the coming years. This research will provide a better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to cognitive decline in older adults with T2DM, and will be used to inform future treatment strategies.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award
  • Alex Cohen Diabetes Scholarship, Diabetes Research Foundation of WA


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