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TagAllison Whitten

Healthy lifestyle choice. Fresh vegetables and fruit shaped as human head

Yes, Our Brains — Like Computers — Have a Low-Power Mode

Sure they do. It makes a lot of sense to conserve power when food supplies are low

Neuroscientists have often wondered if the high-metabolism human brain had a power conservation mode and a recent open-access paper in Neuron finds that brains use an energy-saving strategy to cope with shortages. Cognitive neuroscientist Allison Whitten explains: Now, in a paper published in Neuron in January, neuroscientists in Nathalie Rochefort’s lab at the University of Edinburgh have revealed an energy-saving strategy in the visual systems of mice. They found that when mice were deprived of sufficient food for weeks at a time — long enough for them to lose 15%-20% of their typical healthy weight — neurons in the visual cortex reduced the amount of ATP used at their synapses by a sizable 29%. But the new mode of processing…