Sunday, November 30, 2014

Inspired by a great mind who studies brain energy

Tea, stuffed toy mice and stimulating conversation around the desk of Prof. Pierre Magistretti

When I was six years old, someone told me that we only use 10 percent of our brains.  After that I was determined to use 15 percent of mine just to beat that statistic.  Whether I've actually achieved that or not is up for debate as my early endeavors to bend objects with my mind were not successful.

But I'm not the only who thought the "10 percent" notion needed to be debunked. Dr. Richard Cytownic ( has argued that brain regions once believed to be silent are actually humming with activity.

As you can tell, this whole brain energy concept and how neurons work is fascinating to me, which is why when I got the chance to talk to KAUST's Dean Pierre Magistretti, I was thrilled.

Magistretti's field of research is brain energy metabolism and looking at the mechanisms that regulate the delivery of energy to active neurons. He's been working with the university's Viz Lab to actually show visually how this works.

Magistretti was recently honored for his work with glia cells. "Everyone knows neurons, but there is another population – the other half of the brain – which is glia cells. We showed that a type of these glia cells, known as astrocytes, can detect when neurons are active and import energy in the form of glucose, oxygen as well as increase blood flow in the activated area," Magistretti told me during the interview.  

He was recently honored for his work with glia cells.  And talking to him about how he got into this work years ago and where it sees his research going in the future was inspiring.

Read more about my conversation with him at:

No comments:

Post a Comment