Researcher at HKBU Physics and his former PhD student now working at the State Key Lab of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University (BNU), together with other collaborators at BNU, reveal benefit-risk balancing mechanism in the human brain by studying the relationship between metabolism (aerobic glycolysis) and the brain structural connectome.
The work has been published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA January 5, 2021 118 (1) e2013232118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2013232118
Human brains employ a complex underlying fiber projection network linking different brain regions to perform functions with metabolic support. Aerobic glycolysis (AG), the nonoxidative metabolism of glucose despite abundant oxygen, and crucial for various biological processes in the brain, has been found to heterogeneously distribute in the brain, especially high in regions most vulnerable to amyloid-β deposition in Alzheimer’s Disease. A recent collaborative study by Prof. Changsong Zhou at the Department of Physics, Centre for Nonlinear Studies and Institute of Computational and Theoretical Studies, and his former PhD student Dr. Yuhan Chen, now Assistant Professor at BNU and a few collaborators at BNU, has discovered a wiring mechanism underlying the metabolic benefits and risks of AG. Using computational modelling and multimodal data from PET and fMRI, the work discovered large yet optimized wiring costs in high-AG regions (e.g., default-mode and prefrontal cortices) to support important role of these regions in functional integration. This work reveals a balancing mechanism in the brain that satisfies metabolic demand while reducing vulnerability risk. This research deepens our understanding of the relationship between brain network structure, metabolism and functional organization.