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The supply of glucose to the brain and cognitive functioning

  • David Benton (a1), Pearl Y. Parker (a1) and Rachael T. Donohoe (a1)

Unlike other organs the energy requirement of the brain is met almost exclusively by aerobic glucose degradation (Siesjo, 1978). The energy requirement of the brain is 20–30% of the whole organism at rest, although its weight is only 2%. The energy stores in the brain are extremely small when compared with the high rate of glucose utilisation: thus the brain is reliant on a continuous glucose supply. Only about 30% of glucose is required for direct energy production; much of the remainder is used for the synthesis of amino acids, peptides, lipids and nucleic acids (Siebert, Gessner & Klasser, 1986). Thus a source of glucose is essential for the synthesis of physiologically active amines such as serotonin, noradrenaline and acetylcholine. Although it is well accepted that hypoglycaemia can result in the disruption of cognitive functioning, this is a rare phenomenon and it has usually been assumed that levels of blood glucose, within the normal range, do not influence intellectual functioning. This assumption is discussed in this paper.

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