Propofol induction reduces the capacity for neural information integration: Implications for the mechanism of consciousness and general anesthesia

Consciousness and Cognition 18 (1):56-64 (2009)
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The cognitive unbinding paradigm suggests that the synthesis of neural information is attenuated by general anesthesia. Here, we analyzed the functional organization of brain activities in the conscious and anesthetized states, based on functional segregation and integration. Electroencephalography recordings were obtained from 14 subjects undergoing induction of general anesthesia with propofol. We quantified changes in mean information integration capacity in each band of the EEG. After induction with propofol, mean information integration capacity was reduced most prominently in the γ band of the EEG . Furthermore, we demonstrate that loss of consciousness is reflected by the breakdown of the spatiotemporal organization of γ waves. We conclude that induction of general anesthesia with propofol reduces the capacity for information integration in the brain. These data directly support the information integration theory of consciousness and the cognitive unbinding paradigm of general anesthesia



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George Mashour
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor