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J Neurophysiol. 2013 Dec;110(12):2739-51. doi: 10.1152/jn.00404.2013. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Anesthesia differentially modulates spontaneous network dynamics by cortical area and layer.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina;


Anesthesia is widely used in medicine and research to achieve altered states of consciousness and cognition. Whereas changes to macroscopic cortical activity patterns by anesthesia measured at the spatial resolution of electroencephalography have been widely studied, modulation of mesoscopic and microscopic network dynamics by anesthesia remain poorly understood. To address this gap in knowledge, we recorded spontaneous mesoscopic (local field potential) and microscopic (multiunit activity) network dynamics in primary visual cortex (V1) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) of awake and isoflurane anesthetized ferrets (Mustela putoris furo). This approach allowed for examination of activity as a function of cortical area, cortical layer, and anesthetic depth with much higher spatial and temporal resolution than in previous studies. We hypothesized that a primary sensory area and an association cortical area would exhibit different patterns of network modulation by anesthesia due to their different functional roles. Indeed, we found effects specific to cortical area and cortical layer. V1 exhibited minimal changes in rhythmic structure with anesthesia but differential modulation of input layer IV. In contrast, anesthesia profoundly altered spectral power in PFC, with more uniform modulation across cortical layers. Our results demonstrate that anesthesia modulates spontaneous cortical activity in an area- and layer-specific manner. These finding provide the basis for 1) refining anesthesia monitoring algorithms, 2) reevaluating the large number of systems neuroscience studies performed in anesthetized animals, and 3) increasing our understanding of differential dynamics across cortical layers and areas.


LFP; anesthesia; laminar structure; network dynamics; resting state

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