A cellular perspective on brain energy metabolism and functional imaging

Neuron. 2015 May 20;86(4):883-901. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.035.


The energy demands of the brain are high: they account for at least 20% of the body's energy consumption. Evolutionary studies indicate that the emergence of higher cognitive functions in humans is associated with an increased glucose utilization and expression of energy metabolism genes. Functional brain imaging techniques such as fMRI and PET, which are widely used in human neuroscience studies, detect signals that monitor energy delivery and use in register with neuronal activity. Recent technological advances in metabolic studies with cellular resolution have afforded decisive insights into the understanding of the cellular and molecular bases of the coupling between neuronal activity and energy metabolism and point at a key role of neuron-astrocyte metabolic interactions. This article reviews some of the most salient features emerging from recent studies and aims at providing an integration of brain energy metabolism across resolution scales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Neurons / metabolism*


  • Glucose