neurons and chocolate

the text under this beautiful image – which you can watch in animation – goes like this

a complete understanding of neurovascular coupling is crucial for interpreting functional imaging data and normal brain function. neurons have an intimate relationship with astrocytes, smooth muscle, endothelial cells, pericytes, and erythrocytes. neuronal chemoelectrical activity is speculated to be linked to several metabolic cascades, collectively known as neurovascular coupling. neurovascular coupling includes the followed events: glucose is metabolized to lactate in astrocytes, the lactate is then shuttled to neurons and metabolized with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and atp. arteries deliver oxyhemoglobin to neurons, and oxygen is then released in the presence of carbon dioxide, thus converting oxyhemoglobin into deoxyhemoglobin. nitric oxide or neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine released by active neurons cause relaxation of smooth muscle in arterioles, thus increasing blood flow and volume. functional brain imaging techniques such as EEG, PET, FMRI, or OIS detect the changes during one or more of these events during neurovascular coupling.


i think this is about how blood vessels in the brain, neurons and their helper cells interact with each other. there seems to be some sort of relay going on (the “metabolic cascade”), much like in a restaurant kitchen. one cook brings the milk, the next one adds the chocolate, a third one pours the mixture into flour, etc. and eventually we end up with chocolate cake. (i know, i just can’t get my mind out of the chocolate gutter these days. it’s all director tom’s fault.) the end result is the “increased blood flow and volume”.

anyway, go see the animation. it’s really quite beautiful and helps make some sense of the text.  it’s not a bad idea to have a bit of a clue of what’s going on in our brains.

and if anyone wants to enlighten us further as to what this is about, please go ahead!

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