Our brain doesn’t have enough place to store energy. When it needs supply of energy for its increased activity, the brain gives a sign to blood vessels for extra blood and then directs it to specific brain regions. While reading this, you might ask: how exactly does the brain communicate to blood vessels and how does it know where to direct the blood? And these are really good questions that were investigated in a recent study.
The researchers based their study on the knowledge that electrical pulses coursing through the tiny-sized vessels (capillaries) direct blood flow from the medium-sized vessels (arterioles) to supply the large regions of the brain. They looked in detail at the blood flow through the tiny-sized vessels to understand how precisely energy supply through blood is directed to tiny regions in the brain.
It turned out that when neurons fire electrical pulses for blood supply, they cause an increase in calcium in the cells lining the blood vessels. The enzymes detect the increased calcium signals and direct the cells to make nitric oxide, a hormone that causes muscle-like cells around blood vessels to relax, making them to widen and allowing more blood to flow in. In a sense, calcium signals work like traffic lights that direct blood with vital energy to nearby active neurons in specific brain regions.
These findings are crucial as they help understand how the brain directs energy to itself and determine what can go wrong in brain disorders, like dementia. Because if you know that, then you know how to fix it!
Curious? HERE is the source