Indexed on: 27 Oct '17Published on: 27 Oct '17Published in: Brain Imaging and Behavior
The human brain depends mainly on glucose supply from circulating blood as an energy substrate for its metabolism. Most of the energy produced by glucose catabolism in the brain is used to support intrinsic communication purposes in the absence of goal-directed activity. This intrinsic brain function can be detected with fMRI as synchronized fluctuations of the BOLD signal forming functional networks. Here, we report results from a double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study addressing changes in intrinsic brain activity in the context of very low, yet physiological, blood glucose levels after overnight fasting. Comparison of four major resting state networks in a fasting state and a state of elevated blood glucose levels after glucagon infusion revealed altered patterns of functional connectivity only in a small region of the posterior default mode network, while the rest of the networks appeared unaffected. Furthermore, low blood glucose was associated with changes in the right frontoparietal network after cognitive effort. Our results suggest that fasting has only limited impact on intrinsic brain activity, while a detrimental impact on a network related to attention is only observable following cognitive effort, which is in line with ego depletion and its reliance on glucose.