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Influences of Prolonged Fasting on Behavioral and Brain Patterns

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Handbook of Famine, Starvation, and Nutrient Deprivation

Abstract

Brain functioning requires glucose utilization; however, glucose is a limited resource for the organism, by depending mainly on our food consumption. Prolonged fasting can inevitably reduce the amount of glucose necessary to maintain neuronal activities and therefore, can negatively affect cognitive processes. To date, fasting for esthetical reasons or for unhealthy habits are the common behaviors that lead to low blood glucose levels; however, their effects on brain functioning, such as memory processes, attention levels, and self-control are still poorly investigated. The present work wants to summarize some of the most recent evidences on prolonged fasting effects on brain functioning and attempts to integrate these evidences in a recent model of self-regulation. Additionally, the consequences of low blood glucose levels on neuronal activities (fMRI) are described and discussed from the practical and clinical point of view. Overall, prolonged fasting and subsequent low blood glucose levels seem to decrease self-regulation abilities and negatively affect the attentional system. These results suggest that glucose levels need to be taken in account in fMRI protocols and monitored in circumstances where brain functioning is already compromised, such as in dementia and psychiatric conditions.

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Abbreviations

ATP:

Adenosin triphosphate

BGL:

Blood glucose levels

BOLD:

Blood-oxygenation level dependent

CBF:

Cerebral blood flow

CBV:

Cerebral blood volume

CMRglu:

Cerebral glucose consumption

CMRO2:

Cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen

CPT:

Continuous performance test

DMN:

Default mode network

fMRI:

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

HRF:

Hemodynamic response function

ICA:

Independent component analysis

pACC:

Pregenual anterior cingulate cortex

PCC:

Posterior cingulate cortex

PET:

Positron emission tomography

V1:

Primary visual cortex

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Correspondence to Nils Kohn .

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Papalini, S., Berthold-Losleben, M., Kohn, N. (2017). Influences of Prolonged Fasting on Behavioral and Brain Patterns. In: Preedy, V., Patel, V. (eds) Handbook of Famine, Starvation, and Nutrient Deprivation. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40007-5_30-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40007-5_30-1

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