Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Science. 2008 Nov 7;322(5903):876-80. doi: 10.1126/science.1149213.

Consciousness and anesthesia.

Author information

1
Department of Anesthesiology and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, Irvine, CA 92868, USA.

Abstract

When we are anesthetized, we expect consciousness to vanish. But does it always? Although anesthesia undoubtedly induces unresponsiveness and amnesia, the extent to which it causes unconsciousness is harder to establish. For instance, certain anesthetics act on areas of the brain's cortex near the midline and abolish behavioral responsiveness, but not necessarily consciousness. Unconsciousness is likely to ensue when a complex of brain regions in the posterior parietal area is inactivated. Consciousness vanishes when anesthetics produce functional disconnection in this posterior complex, interrupting cortical communication and causing a loss of integration; or when they lead to bistable, stereotypic responses, causing a loss of information capacity. Thus, anesthetics seem to cause unconsciousness when they block the brain's ability to integrate information.

PMID:
18988836
PMCID:
PMC2743249
DOI:
10.1126/science.1149213
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center