Key idea: Some parts of the deep brain can get up to 40 °C (104 °F), a new study shows, though this varies by sex, time of day, and various other factors.
Original author and publication date: David Neil – June 14, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The brain uses 20 % of the energy of the body. Now we know why.
From the article:
From the engine in your car to the components in your laptop, mechanical systems tend to heat up when they’re working harder. Now new research has revealed that the same can be said of the brain – and it runs hotter than was previously thought.
Some parts of the deep brain can get up to 40 °C (104 °F), a new study shows, though this varies by sex, time of day, and various other factors. Compare that with the average oral temperature in human bodies, which is typically under 37 °C (98.6 °F).
This isn’t a sign of malfunctioning though, researchers think, and may actually be evidence that the brain is operating healthily. Unusual heat signatures could potentially be used in the future to look for signs of brain damage or disorder.
“To me, the most surprising finding from our study is that the healthy human brain can reach temperatures that would be diagnosed as fever anywhere else in the body,” says biologist John O’Neill from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK.
“Such high temperatures have been measured in people with brain injuries in the past, but had been assumed to result from the injury.”
Previously, those measurements taken from people with brain injuries had been the primary insight scientists had into brain temperatures – which isn’t the same as capturing the state of the brain during everyday life.
Here, the team used a technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) – measuring chemical patterns through magnetic fields – to measure brain temperature non-invasively in 40 healthy volunteers, aged from 20 to 40 years old. What’s more, they combined this information with data on circadian rhythms and time of day.
The average brain temperature was 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) the researchers found, more than 2 degrees higher than under the tongue. Variations were noted based on the time of day, the brain region, and the participant’s age, sex, and menstrual cycle.