Bird Neurons Use Three Times Less Glucose Than Mammalian Neurons

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Chook Neurons Use Three Occasions Much less Glucose Than Mammalian Neurons

Abstract: The mind neurons of birds are extra power environment friendly than these of mammals.

Supply: Cell press

Birds have spectacular cognitive talents and reveal a excessive stage of intelligence. In comparison with mammals of roughly the identical dimension, the brains of birds additionally include considerably extra neurons.

Now, a brand new examine reported in Present biology September 8 helps clarify how birds can afford to take care of extra mind cells: their neurons get by on much less gas within the type of glucose.

“What stunned us essentially the most was not, per se, that neurons devour much less glucose – one might need anticipated this due to the variations within the dimension of their neurons,” says Kaya von Eugen of the College from the Ruhr to Bochum, Germany.

“However the magnitude of the distinction is so nice that the dimensions distinction can’t be the one contributing issue. This means that there have to be one thing extra completely different within the birds’ brains that permits them to maintain prices down. so low.

A landmark examine in 2016 confirmed that the mind of birds accommodates considerably extra neurons in comparison with a mammalian mind of comparable dimension, the researchers defined. Provided that brains are sometimes product of energetically costly tissue, this raised a essential query: how are birds capable of help so many neurons?

To reply this query, von Eugen and his colleagues got down to decide the neural power stability of birds primarily based on research of pigeons. They used imaging strategies that allowed them to estimate glucose metabolism in birds. Additionally they used modeling approaches to calculate mind metabolic fee and glucose consumption.

Their research revealed that the pigeon’s mind consumes a surprisingly low quantity of glucose (27.29 ± 1.57 μmol of glucose per 100 g per minute) when the animal is awake. This leads to a surprisingly low power funds for the mind, particularly when in comparison with mammals.

Because of this the neurons within the mind of birds devour on common 3 times much less glucose than these within the mind of mammals. In different phrases, their neurons are, for causes that aren’t but clear, cheaper.

Von Eugen says it is doable the variations are associated to the birds’ larger physique temperature or the precise format of their brains. The mind of birds can also be smaller on common than the mind of mammals. However their brains retain spectacular capabilities, maybe partly because of their cheaper however extra quite a few neurons.

Their research revealed that the pigeon’s mind consumes a surprisingly low quantity of glucose (27.29 ± 1.57 μmol of glucose per 100 g per minute) when the animal is awake. Picture is in public area

“Our discovering explains how birds are capable of help such excessive numbers of neurons with out compromising processing energy,” says von Eugen.

“Throughout the lengthy parallel evolution of birds and mammals, birds developed smaller brains with excessive numbers of neurons able to superior cognitive efficiency.

“And it seems that the mixed impact of distinct parts for birds – small neuron dimension, excessive physique temperature and particular fowl mind format – might have generated a doable benefit in neural data processing at an effectivity larger: low-cost neurons with superior applied sciences processing capability.”

The researchers say they now wish to higher perceive how fowl neurons devour much less glucose. Though they’ve concepts about how this may work, additional examine and testing is required to uncover “the precise mechanistic rationalization for the way birds obtain such neural processing effectivity.”

Funding: This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

About this neuroscience analysis information

Creator: Bench Christopher
Supply: Cell press
Contact: Kristopher Benke – Cell Press
Picture: Picture is in public area

Unique analysis: Free entry.
“Avian neurons devour 3 times much less glucose than mammalian neurons” by Kaya von Eugen et al. Present biology


See additionally

It shows a person holding their head

Avian neurons devour 3 times much less glucose than mammalian neurons

Robust factors

  • Mind tissue of awake pigeons consumes 27.29 ± 1.57 μmol of glucose per 100 g per minute
  • This is the same as 1.86 × 10−9 ±0.2×10−9 μmol of glucose per neuron per minute
  • The neuronal power funds of pigeons is due to this fact about 3 instances decrease than that of mammals
  • This will point out extra environment friendly neural processing within the avian clade


Brains are among the many most energetically costly tissues within the mammalian physique.

That is primarily brought on by costly neurons with excessive glucose calls for.

In mammals, the neural power funds seems to be mounted, maybe posing an evolutionary constraint on mind development.

In comparison with equally sized mammals, birds have a better variety of neurons, and this benefit seemingly contributes to their cognitive prowess.

We got down to decide the neural power funds of birds to elucidate how they’ll metabolically help such a excessive variety of neurons. We estimated glucose metabolism utilizing positron emission tomography (PET) and 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose ([18F]FDG) as a radiotracer in awake and anesthetized pigeons. Mixed with kinetic modeling, it’s the gold customary for quantifying cerebral metabolic fee of glucose consumption (CMRglc).

We discovered that neural tissue within the pigeon consumes 27.29 ± 1.57 μmol of glucose per 100 g per min within the awake state, which interprets to a surprisingly low neural power funds of 1.86 × 10−9 ±0.2×10−9 μmol of glucose per neuron per minute. That is about 3 instances decrease than the speed within the common mammalian neuron.

The remarkably low neuronal power funds explains how pigeons, and maybe different avian species, can help such excessive numbers of neurons with out related metabolic prices or compromised neuronal signaling. The benefit of neural data processing with larger effectivity might have arisen through the distinct evolution of the avian mind.


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