Xiaolin Liu1, Kathryn K. Lauer2, Stephen M. Rao3, Shijiang Li1, Anthony G. Hudetz2
1Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, United States; 2Anesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, United States; 3Schey Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, United States
In this study, we described our investigation into the integrative mechanisms of general anesthesia using a compelling verbal memory experimental paradigm that allows neuroimaging characterization of consciousness in waking, anesthesia, and emergence. Our neuroimaging methodology was specifically designed to understand the anesthetic-induced changes of temporal coherence in the brain at different hierarchical levels of the cognitive processing, providing a consistent interpretation with the conception of the anesthetic mechanisms as the information disintegration or the cognitive unbinding. The findings reveal a differential effect of propofol anesthesia on sensory and cognitive systems and provide direct imaging evidence for information disintegration as a mechanism of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness.