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Front Syst Neurosci. 2014 Dec 10;8:232. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00232. eCollection 2014.

Anesthetic action on extra-synaptic receptors: effects in neural population models of EEG activity.

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INRIA CR Nancy - Grand Est, Team Neurosys Villers-les-Nancy, France.
Department of Anaesthesiology, Waikato Clinical School, University of Auckland Hamilton, New Zealand.


The role of extra-synaptic receptors in the regulation of excitation and inhibition in the brain has attracted increasing attention. Because activity in the extra-synaptic receptors plays a role in regulating the level of excitation and inhibition in the brain, they may be important in determining the level of consciousness. This paper reviews briefly the literature on extra-synaptic GABA and NMDA receptors and their affinity to anesthetic drugs. We propose a neural population model that illustrates how the effect of the anesthetic drug propofol on GABAergic extra-synaptic receptors results in changes in neural population activity and the electroencephalogram (EEG). Our results show that increased tonic inhibition in inhibitory cortical neurons cause a dramatic increase in the power of both δ- and α- bands. Conversely, the effects of increased tonic inhibition in cortical excitatory neurons and thalamic relay neurons have the opposite effect and decrease the power in these bands. The increased δ-activity is in accord with observed data for deepening propofol anesthesia; but is absolutely dependent on the inclusion of extrasynaptic (tonic) GABA action in the model.


GABA receptor; general anesthesia; neural mass; power spectrum; propofol

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