Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 1987 Aug;7(8):2373-89.

Does mental activity change the oxidative metabolism of the brain?


Previous studies have shown that sensory stimulation and voluntary motor activity increase regional cerebral glucose consumption and regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). The present study had 3 purposes: (1) to examine whether pure mental activity changed the oxidative metabolism of the brain and, if so, (2) to examine which anatomical structures were participating in the mental activity; and to examine whether there was any coupling of the rCBF to the physiological changes in the regional cerebral oxidative metabolism (rCMRO2). With a positron-emission tomograph (PET), we measured the rCMRO2, rCBF, and regional cerebral blood volume (rCBV) in independent sessions lasting 100 sec each. A dynamic method was used for the measurement of rCMRO2. The rCMRO2, rCBF, and rCBV were measured in 2 different states in 10 young, healthy volunteers: at rest and when visually imagining a specific route in familiar surroundings. The rCBF at rest was linearly correlated to the rCMRO2: rCBF (in ml/100 gm/min) = 11.4 rCMRO2 + 11.9. The specific mental visual imagery increased the rCMRO2 in 25 cortical fields, ranging in size from 2 to 10 cm3, located in homotypical cortex. Active fields were located in the superior and lateral prefrontal cortex and the frontal eye fields. The strongest increase of rCMRO2 appeared in the posterior superior lateral parietal cortex and the posterior superior medial parietal cortex in precuneus. Subcortically, the rCMRO2 increased in neostriatum and posterior thalamus. These focal metabolic increases were so strong that the CMRO2 of the whole brain increased by 10%. The rCBF increased proportionally in these active fields and structures, such that d(rCBF) in ml/100 gm/min = 11.1 d(rCMRO2). Thus, a dynamic coupling of the rCBF to the rCMRO2 was observed during the physiological increase in neural metabolism. On the basis of previous functional activation studies and our knowledge of anatomical connections in man and other primates, the posterior medial and lateral parietal cortices were classified as remote visual-association areas participating in the generation of visual images of spatial scenes from memory, and the posterior thalamus was assumed to participate in the retrieval of such memories.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center