Need a runaway thought ramp for your brain?
Mathematicians at Case Western Reserve University
may have discovered part of the reason it's so hard to turn off
ruminations about your latest joy or trauma, and why you sometimes can't
stop carrying your work thoughts home. A ScienceDaily story, "Why Thinking of Nothing Can be So Tiring: Brain Wolfs Energy to Stop Thinking
," explains how scientists studied the amount of energy it takes to stop thought.
Mathematics Professors Daniela Calvetti
and Erkki Somersalo
and researcher Rossana Occhipinti developed equations and statistics to
build a computer model of brain metabolism. Calvettti and Somersalo
a software package used to study complex metabolic systems. The story
explains the brain has excitatory neurons, which transmit thought, and
inhibitory neurons that restrain thought. Brain cells called astrocytes
bring essential chemicals and functions to both kinds of neurons. In
fact, Somersalo calls astrocytes "the Cinderellas of the brain" because
their labor makes them require large quantities of oxygen. Stopping a
thought, these scientists say, takes a surprising amount of
energy-something akin to stopping a truck on a downhill slope.
many brain maladies involve energy metabolism, this research could shed
light on neurodegenerative diseases and perhaps pave the way for
earlier diagnosis. Read the Science Daily
story and the research in Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism