Simplified Science

Brain Energy

Electron micrograph showing many mitochondria, the ‘powerplants’ of our cells. Image by the MPFI Electron Microscopy Core

A fundamental challenge in understanding the brain is elucidating how neurons supply the massive amounts of energy that are required to support the synaptic mechanisms necessary to respond and transmit signals to other neurons.

Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques and advanced proteomics technology, Max Planck scientists are at the forefront in probing how proteins in mitochondria–the ‘powerplants’ of our cells – and the major energy source in the brain, regulate this energy supply and ensure delivery to critical sites within the neuron. Mitochondria represent a hugely underexplored area of neuroscience, and this lack of knowledge impedes our progress on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and ALS as well as other cognitive and psychiatric disorders.