Read Brain and Behavior’s latest issue highlights
Issue 2 of Brain and Behavior features research on the impact of Gene Therapy on Parkinson’s disease, pain processing in patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, and attention’s effect on neural activity in primary sensorimotor cortex The cover features an image from, Early presymptomatic cholinergic dysfunction in a murine model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by Caty Casas, Mireia Herrando-Grabulosa, Raquel Manzano, Renzo Mancuso, Rosario Osta, and Xavier Navarro
Below are two more standout articles selected by the editorial team.
Human hippocampal energy metabolism is impaired during cognitive activity in a lipid infusion model of insulin resistance
By Yaso Emmanuel, Lowri E. Cochlin, Damian J. Tyler, Celeste A. de Jager, A. David Smith, and Kieran Clarke
Abstract: Neuronal glucose uptake was thought to be independent of insulin, being facilitated by glucose transporters GLUT1 and GLUT3, which do not require insulin signaling. However, it is now known that components of the insulin-mediated glucose uptake pathway, including neuronal insulin synthesis and the insulin-dependent glucose transporter GLUT4, are present in brain tissue, particularly in the hippocampus. There is considerable recent evidence that insulin signaling is crucial to optimal hippocampal function. The physiological basis, however, is not clear. We propose that while noninsulin-dependent GLUT1 and GLUT3 transport is adequate for resting needs, the surge in energy use during sustained cognitive activity requires the additional induction of insulin-signaled GLUT4 transport. We studied hippocampal high-energy phosphate metabolism in eight healthy volunteers, using a lipid infusion protocol to inhibit insulin signaling. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is now known that free fatty acids do cross the blood–brain barrier in significant amounts. Energy metabolism within the hippocampus was assessed during standardized cognitive activity. 31Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to determine the phosphocreatine (PCr)-to-adenosine triphosphate (ATP) ratio. This ratio reflects cellular energy production in relation to concurrent cellular energy expenditure. With lipid infusion, the ratio was significantly reduced during cognitive activity (PCr/ATP 1.0 ± 0.4 compared with 1.4 ± 0.4 before infusion, P = 0.01). Without lipid infusion, there was no reduction in the ratio during cognitive activity (PCr/ATP 1.5 ± 0.3 compared with 1.4 ± 0.4, P = 0.57). This provides supporting evidence for a physiological role for insulin signaling in facilitating increased neuronal glucose uptake during sustained cognitive activity. Loss of this response, as may occur in type 2 diabetes, would lead to insufficient neuronal energy availability during cognitive activity.
Brain processing of pain in patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome
By Alexandra Mark, Tao Yu, Dominik Vogel, Friedemann Müller, Boris Kotchoubey, and Simone Lang
Abstract: By definition, patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) do not experience pain, but it is still not completely understood how far their brain can process noxious stimuli. The few positron emission tomography studies that have examined pain processing did not yield a clear and consistent result. We performed an functional magnetic resonance imaging scan in 30 UWS patients of nontraumatic etiology and 15 age- and sex-matched healthy control participants (HC). In a block design, noxious electrical stimuli were presented at the patients’ left index finger, alternating with a resting baseline condition. Sixteen of the UWS patients (53%) showed neural activation in at least one subsystem of the pain-processing network. More specifically, 15 UWS patients (50%) showed responses in the sensory-discriminative pain network, 30% in the affective pain network. The data indicate that some patients completely fulfilling the clinical UWS criteria have the neural substrates of noxious stimulation processing, which resemble that in control individuals. We therefore suppose that at least some of these patients can experience pain.
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