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Neurons, like all other cells, require energy to function. This energy is supplied in the form of glucose and oxygen (the oxygen being carried in haemoglobin). The blood supply of the brain is dynamically regulated to give active neural assemblies more energy whilst inactive assemblies receive less energy. This dynamic regulation of the blood flow (haemodynamics) is the principle on which functional magnetic resonance imaging is based.
The molecular biology of haemodynamic regulationEdit
- Active excitatory neurons release the neurotransmitter glutamate
- Glutamate opens NMDA receptors on other neurons which allows calcium ions into the neuron
- Glutamate also opens mGluR receptors on astrocytes
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