For example, the amount of energy that is available for the brain to use, or the amount that the brain consumes with respect to time?

  • $\begingroup$ Energy in the form of blood glucose or ATP levels, maybe? $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner May 30 '14 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ How does the brain keep its energy consumption and resources in balance so that it doesn't die, maybe there's something that monitors that? $\endgroup$ – JackLaurence May 30 '14 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ There's quite a lot of info on Wikipedia...Are you looking for anything that's not already covered there? $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner May 30 '14 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ I've looked for a quite a bit and I haven't found something direct enough i.e. hypothalamic receptors, melanocortin receptors, endocannabinoid receptors... temperature and food regulation. I could do tones of piecing together, but it's worth a check to see if someone has already done that! $\endgroup$ – JackLaurence May 30 '14 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ You might stand a better chance of getting the answer you're looking for if you clarify what you've looked through already and why it's not direct enough. $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner May 31 '14 at 0:03

This is a very broad question. I'll simplify greatly.

Like most systems, the brain regulates it's moment-to-moment energy needs through control of it's vascular supply. While the vascular supply (to the heart and brain) is regulated (by both baroreceptors and other) to protect against decreased blood flow (that is, the heart and the brain will be preferentially protected against decreased blood flow), the day-to-day energy need fluctuations are still met by brain parenchymal vasodilation/vasoconstriction, often mediated by ion concentration in response to CO2 levels, etc. There are a host of local and peripheral vasodilators. The most instantaneous of these are a result of Ca++ and K+.

The matching of blood flow to regional brain function, called functional hyperemia or neurovascular coupling, involves the coordinated activity of neurons, astrocytes, and parenchymal arterioles. Under physiological conditions, localized neuronal activation leads to elevated astrocyte endfoot Ca(2+) and vasodilation, resulting in an increase in cerebral blood flow. (see also Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22;109(21):E1387-95. for Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels.).

The simplest answer to your question of how the energy needs are met by the brain is through vascular control of the supply of nutrients.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much. That's very helpful. It would have taken me a while to look there. I don't see the other possible implications to my question, or the bias; if it was simpler, I would do a google search. $\endgroup$ – JackLaurence May 31 '14 at 17:08

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