May 21, 2024
Synchronized Blood Vessel Activity

Synchronized Blood Vessel Activity Enhanced by Visual Stimuli: A Potential Key to Improved Brain Performance

The brain’s ability to perform complex computations with minimal energy consumption continues to intrigue scientists. While much is known about the brain’s energy management, the role of blood vessel dynamics in this process remains under-explored. Spontaneous dilation and constriction cycles, or vasomotion, in the brain are believed to contribute to the circulation of essential nutrients and the removal of waste products.

Researchers from Tohoku University have devised a method to observe and monitor blood vessel dynamics in the mouse brain, either through the skull or by implanting an optical fiber. Their findings, published in the journal eLife on April 17, 2024, revealed that visual stimuli could induce vasomotion in mice.

When mice were exposed to a horizontally moving stripe pattern that changed direction every few seconds, their blood vessels responded by dilating and constricting at a rate that matched the pattern’s speed. With regular visual training sessions and resting periods, the amplitude of synchronized vasomotion increased and spread throughout the entire brain.

Professor Ko Matsui, the study’s lead researcher from the Super-network Brain Physiology lab at Tohoku University, explained that “synchronized vascular motion can be entrained with slowly oscillating visual stimuli.” This enhancement of circulation mechanisms could potentially benefit the brain’s information processing capacity.

Previous research has established the connection between neuronal plasticity and learning and memory. However, the plasticity of vasomotion, which was discovered in this study, is a new finding. The researchers observed that a specific visual pattern led to increased eye movements, which in turn depended on changes in the brain’s cerebellum. They also noted that blood vessel activity in the cerebellum synchronized with the optokinetic motor learning.

Daichi Sasaki, the study’s lead investigator, believes that synchronized vasomotion, which facilitates the delivery of oxygen and glucose, could improve learning abilities. He stated, “Our next step is to explore the advantages of vasomotion synchronization. It might help clear waste like amyloid beta, potentially delaying or preventing dementia. Stroke recovery could also benefit from better energy supply and waste removal. Additionally, synchronized vasomotion might even enhance intelligence beyond our natural capabilities.”

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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