For a number of years, it was thought that a mind at rest utilized less energy than a mind that was focused on a particular task or one that was multi-tasking. Such a thought seemed reasonable due to its apparent intuitiveness. However, this presumption does not appear to be correct. Although the experiments are only preliminary, neuronal imaging has provided evidence that there is a persistent level of activity when the conscious mind is not engaged in some task. In fact this activity appears to be 20 times greater vs. when the mind is focused. Note that this neurological behavior is only applicable during periods of rest or anesthesia, not during periods of sleep.
A future blog post will discuss possible reasons behind this flood of activity during periods of rest, but one interesting issue that arises from this new energy distribution in the brain is how it affects preparation for surgery. Previously this blog discussed possible rationalities behind why anesthesia may cause brain damage in young children and the elderly. Here
Could additional oxidative stress brought on by a surplus demand of energy due to the administration of anesthesia for an extend period of time (hours due to typically surgical length) be the primary reason for brain damage? If yes, then could a meal high in complex sugars (12-24 hours before surgery) reduce the probability of brain damage through the reduction of oxidative stress? The brain has its own specific source of glycogen, which has a unique slow release property. A simple yet special pre-surgical preparation diet for infants and young children may be a useful deterrent to anesthesia-derived brain damage. Bring on the mouse studies.