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Inside The Anesthetized Brain: How Consciousness is Formed?

A new study shows for the first time what happens to brain cells in anesthetized patients.

Effects of anesthesia on the brain were observed in three patients who were treatment against epilepsy. As part of treatment, patients were implanted brain electrodes to identify seizure source in order subsequently to surgeons can remove.

First, patients were subjected to surgical operations are implanted electrodes. Once the source has been detected seizures, volunteers underwent another operation for the matter to be removed. Because the second surgery requires patients to be anesthetized, implanted electrodes already gave scientists information on when the brain loses consciousness.

While being put under anesthesia, patients listened to words spoken by other people and responding verbally to indicate whether they heard his name or other words. When they stopped responding, researchers have realized that patients had lost consciousness. Throughout the entire process, implanted electrodes recorded brain activity both on its surface and in the interior.

The study has the potential to help scientists understand the difference between unconsciousness and consciousness. As participants entered under anesthesia, consciousness is “dissolved” gradually, while different brain regions are disconnected.

While these regions are disconnected, weak wave electrical activity began to swing. “It’s weak, but just beginning to take shape when a person loses consciousness,” said Patrick Purdon.

These waves restricting the activity of neurons so that cells could act only small periods of time. “It’s not how brain activity is completely stopped, but it is a pattern that is incompatible with consciousness,” added Purdon.

Incompatibility prevents communication between parts of the brain, in the same way that people who speak different languages ​​can not understand each other.

The study comes to the idea that consciousness is not a single region of the brain is rather the result of a network of neural connections made between areas of the brain move. Moreover, the study could assist in some patients. On very rare (about 1 in 10,000 operations) people can stay awake during anesthesia. Using signals found in the new study, scientists might be able to develop an algorithm that ensures obtaining signatures of consciousness. Anesthetists could then look at the template while their patients were anesthetized, ensuring that the anesthetic has the desired effect.

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