Karbowski, Jan (2009) Thermodynamic constraints on neural dimensions, firing rates, brain temperature and size. Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 27 (3). pp. 415-436. ISSN 0929-5313 http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20091125-122333910
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There have been suggestions that heat caused by cerebral metabolic activity may constrain mammalian brain evolution, architecture, and function. This article investigates physical limits on brain wiring and corresponding changes in brain temperature that are imposed by thermodynamics of heat balance determined mainly by Na^+/K^+-ATPase, cerebral blood flow, and heat conduction. It is found that even moderate firing rates cause significant intracellular Na^+ build-up, and the ATP consumption rate associated with pumping out these ions grows nonlinearly with frequency. Surprisingly, the power dissipated by the Na^+/K^+ pump depends biphasically on frequency, which can lead to the biphasic dependence of brain temperature on frequency as well. Both the total power of sodium pumps and brain temperature diverge for very small fiber diameters, indicating that too thin fibers are not beneficial for thermal balance. For very small brains blood flow is not a sufficient cooling mechanism deep in the brain. The theoretical lower bound on fiber diameter above which brain temperature is in the operational regime is strongly frequency dependent but finite due to synaptic depression. For normal neurophysiological conditions this bound is at least an order of magnitude smaller than average values of empirical fiber diameters, suggesting that neuroanatomy of the mammalian brains operates in the thermodynamically safe regime. Analytical formulas presented can be used to estimate average firing rates in mammals, and relate their changes to changes in brain temperature, which can have important practical applications. In general, activity in larger brains is found to be slower than in smaller brains.
|Additional Information:||© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009. Received: 12 May 2008. Revised: 1 April 2009. Accepted: 8 April 2009. Published online: 5 May 2009. Action Editor: Peter Latham. The work was partly supported by the Caltech Center for Biological Circuit Design. I acknowledge useful suggestions of the two anonymous reviewers.|
|Subject Keywords:||Metabolism; Heat balance; Brain size; Fiber diameter; Temperature; Wiring; Limits|
|Usage Policy:||No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.|
|Deposited By:||Tony Diaz|
|Deposited On:||04 Jan 2010 19:27|
|Last Modified:||26 Dec 2012 11:35|
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