A Transcranial Doppler Study of Blood Flow Velocity in the Middle Cerebral Arteries Performed at Rest and During Mental Activities


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Abstract

While changes in blood velocity in the middle cerebral artery relative to rest were assessed by transcranial Doppler sonography, 70 volunteers with no sign of cerebrovascular disease performed two (left and right middle cerebral artery) series of six cognitive tasks. The tasks are assumed to be processed predominantly by either the left (verbal and mathematical tests performed aloud) or the right hemisphere (dot/distance estimation, spatial perception, and face recognition performed silently). All tasks were shown to increase middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity on both sides, by 1.6–10.6%. After an initial maximum at approximately 8 seconds, velocity decreased then increased again. A steady state was reached after approximately 24–42 seconds. The initial minimum during the following rest phase was reached some seconds later, followed by a slow increase to the reference rest steady state. A difference according to side could be determined only during the three right-hemispheric tasks (right>left, 2.5–2.9%). Lefthandedness/ambidexterity, familial sinistrality, and profession seemed to have no influence on the results. The middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity increase on both sides was higher in women than in men during the dot/distance estimation and was also higher bilaterally in older than in younger subjects during the dot/distance and the spatial perception tasks. Habituation in performing the tasks was an important factor associated with a decrease of blood flow velocity, especially in the right middle cerebral artery. The habituation more pronounced on the right side possibly reflects the role of the right hemisphere in attention and arousal. The absolute blood velocities at rest decreased bilaterally with age.

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