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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2013 Mar;33(3):339-47. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.207. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Glutamatergic function in the resting awake human brain is supported by uniformly high oxidative energy.

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Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.

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  • J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2014 Feb;34(2):368.


Rodent (13)C magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies show that glutamatergic signaling requires high oxidative energy in the awake resting state and allowed calibration of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal in terms of energy relative to the resting energy. Here, we derived energy used for glutamatergic signaling in the awake resting human. We analyzed human data of electroencephalography (EEG), positron emission tomography (PET) maps of oxygen (CMR(O2)) and glucose (CMR(glc)) utilization, and calibrated fMRI from a variety of experimental conditions. CMR(glc) and EEG in the visual cortex were tightly coupled over several conditions, showing that the oxidative demand for signaling was four times greater than the demand for nonsignaling events in the awake state. Variations of CMR(O2) and CMR(glc) from gray-matter regions and networks were within ±10% of means, suggesting that most areas required similar energy for ubiquitously high resting activity. Human calibrated fMRI results suggest that changes of fMRI signal in cognitive studies contribute at most ±10% CMR(O2) changes from rest. The PET data of sleep, vegetative state, and anesthesia show metabolic reductions from rest, uniformly >20% across, indicating no region is selectively reduced when consciousness is lost. Future clinical investigations will benefit from using quantitative metabolic measures.

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