Indexed on: 22 Mar '15Published on: 22 Mar '15Published in: NeuroImage
Glucose is the primary source of energy for the human brain. Previous literature has shown that varying blood glucose levels may have a strong impact on behaviour, subjective mood, and the intensity of the BOLD signal measured in fMRI. Therefore, blood glucose levels varying even within the normal range may interact with cognitive and emotional processing as well as BOLD signal. Here, in a placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study on 20 healthy women, we show that overnight fasting, compared to an elevated glucose condition, influences brain activation and the affective state during mood induction. Results indicate that our brain may compensate for low glucose levels during fasting by stronger recruitment of the brain areas relevant to the task at hand. Additionally, we systematically tested the effect of prior cognitive effort on behavioural and neural patterns and found that elevated activation is only associated with maintained performance as long as no prior cognitively challenging task is administered. Prior cognitive effort leads to deteriorated performance and a further increase in emotion-associated brain activation in the pregenual anterior and posterior cingulate, the superior frontal gyrus, and the pre-SMA. These results are in line with the strength model of self-regulation. Our results corroborate the strength model of self-regulation and extend it to affect regulation processes. Additionally, our observations suggest that experimentally controlling for fasting state or glucose levels may be beneficial, especially when studying processes that involve self-regulation.