Brain energy expenses

Alexandre Blais Alexandre.Blais at
Thu Aug 17 11:49:19 EST 2000

Dear neuroscientists,

I am new to this newgroup. I am a molecular biologist and I  am not
familiar with neurosciences.

I was wondering if it is possible to measure the amount of energy
expense (in joules) of the human brain when it is "at work"  (during the
process of solving a hard problem, for example) compared to its energy
expense when it is "at intelectual rest" (while watching Wheel Of
Fortune TV show, for example :-).

I have done some Pubmed searches, and I found that
-the main fuel of the brain is glucose, and
-the energy delivered to brain cells is derived from oxidative
metabolism of glucose, glycogen breakdown, and from the tricarboxylate
-the main method of evaluating the metabolic activity of the brain is
via MRI and PET using analogs of glucose
-it is possible to evaluate the contribution of different celle types in
the brain, and to analyze the metabolic activity of different parts of
the brain
-researchers notice an increase in metabolic activity following
"stimulation" of different parts of the brain

However, I found no papers describing and measuring the total energy
expense of the brain during "intellectual work" per unit time. May be my
question is naive and this type of experiment can not be attempted ?
Just let me know .

If someone can enlighten me on that topic, or can direct me to some
useful resources, I would be very greateful,

Alexandre Blais
Centre de Recherche du CHUL
Québec, Canada

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