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10 p.

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Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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DOI: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000690, PubMed Central: PMCID: PMC4626389


Background: Neuronal interactions are fundamental for information processing, cognition and consciousness. Anesthetics reduce spontaneous cortical activity; however, neuronal reactivity to sensory stimuli is often preserved or augmented. How sensory stimulus-related neuronal interactions change under anesthesia has not been elucidated. Here we investigated visual stimulus-related cortical neuronal interactions during stepwise emergence from desflurane anesthesia.

Methods: Parallel spike trains were recorded with 64-contact extracellular microelectrode arrays from the primary visual cortex of chronically instrumented, unrestrained rats (N=6) at 8%, 6%, 4%, 2% desflurane anesthesia and wakefulness. Light flashes were delivered to the retina by transcranial illumination at 5-15s randomized intervals. Information theoretical indices, integration and interaction complexity, were calculated from the probability distribution of coincident spike patterns and used to quantify neuronal interactions before and after flash stimulation.

Results: Integration and complexity showed significant negative associations with desflurane concentration (N=60). Flash stimulation increased integration and complexity at all anesthetic levels (N=60); the effect on complexity was reduced in wakefulness. During stepwise withdrawal of desflurane, the largest increase in integration (74%) and post-stimulus complexity (35%) occurred prior to reaching 4% desflurane concentration – a level associated with the recovery of consciousness according to the rats' righting reflex.

Conclusions: Neuronal interactions in the cerebral cortex are augmented during emergence from anesthesia. Visual flash stimuli enhance neuronal interactions in both wakefulness and anesthesia; the increase in interaction complexity is attenuated as post-stimulus complexity reaches plateau. The critical changes in cortical neuronal interactions occur during transition to consciousness.


Accepted version. Anesthesiology, Vol. 123, No. 1 (2015): 171-180. DOI. © 2015, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Used with permission.