A new study published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences investigates the processes used by the structurally normal brain to recover consciousness following anesthesia. The findings on how the brain “reboots” may promote reexamination of present approaches to monitoring anesthesia and may have further applicability to treating other disorders of consciousness.
Previous research has shown that the anesthetized brain is not “silent” under surgical levels of anesthesia but experiences certain patterns of activity, and it spontaneously changes its activity patterns over time. In this study of recovery from anesthesia, researchers identified “hubs” that the brain uses to connect activity patterns to return to consciousness as anesthesia is reduced. Read a news story about the study here.