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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2013 Sep;33(9):1347-54. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.94. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Cerebral energy metabolism and the brain's functional network architecture: an integrative review.

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Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have emphasized the contributions of synchronized activity in distributed brain networks to cognitive processes in both health and disease. The brain's 'functional connectivity' is typically estimated from correlations in the activity time series of anatomically remote areas, and postulated to reflect information flow between neuronal populations. Although the topological properties of functional brain networks have been studied extensively, considerably less is known regarding the neurophysiological and biochemical factors underlying the temporal coordination of large neuronal ensembles. In this review, we highlight the critical contributions of high-frequency electrical oscillations in the γ-band (30 to 100 Hz) to the emergence of functional brain networks. After describing the neurobiological substrates of γ-band dynamics, we specifically discuss the elevated energy requirements of high-frequency neural oscillations, which represent a mechanistic link between the functional connectivity of brain regions and their respective metabolic demands. Experimental evidence is presented for the high oxygen and glucose consumption, and strong mitochondrial performance required to support rhythmic cortical activity in the γ-band. Finally, the implications of mitochondrial impairments and deficits in glucose metabolism for cognition and behavior are discussed in the context of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative syndromes characterized by large-scale changes in the organization of functional brain networks.

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