Older adults with diabetes who took insulin through their nose showed cognitive improvement, a small pilot study finds.

The study, conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center leads researchers to believe that those with diabetes who take intranasal insulin can improve their cognitive function.

Intranasal administration means insulin goes directly to the brain, and it may enhance cognitive function, according to Harvard Medical School associate professor and author Vera Novak, M.D., Ph.D.

“We observed in both the healthy subjects and the patients with diabetes that there was an improvement in both verbal learning and visual-spatial learning and memory after they received the insulin,” Novak says.

Results appeared in Diabetes Care on Nov. 13.