Long Periods of Calorie Shortage Send the Brain Into “Low-Power Mode”


A new study published in the journal Neuron suggests that long-term reductions in caloric intake send the brain into a “power-saving” mode that cuts the amount of information it transmits to consume less energy. The findings, published by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, reveal how the fuel-guzzling human brain, which is responsible for up to 20% of our body’s energy consumption despite making up only 3% of its mass, tunes itself down in energy-scarce scenarios.

This change to the brain’s activity comes at a cost. “Basically, we have found the mechanisms that explain how the brain can enter low-battery mode. You need less energy, but you also function less well,” said Prof. Nathalie Rochefort, a fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences and co-author of the paper, in an interview with Technology Networks.