Recent studies have investigated local oscillations, long-range connectivity, and global network patterns to identify neural changes associated with anesthetic-induced unconsciousness. These studies typically employ anesthetic protocols that either just cross the threshold of unconsciousness, or induce deep unconsciousness for a brief period of time—neither of which models general anesthesia for major surgery. To study neural patterns of unconsciousness and recovery in a clinically-relevant context, we used a realistic anesthetic regimen to induce and maintain unconsciousness in eight healthy participants for 3 h. High-density electroencephalogram (EEG) was acquired throughout and for another 3 h after emergence. Seven epochs of 5-min eyes-closed resting states were extracted from the data at baseline as well as 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180-min post-emergence. Additionally, 5-min epochs were extracted during induction, unconsciousness, and immediately prior to recovery of consciousness, for a total of 10 analysis epochs. The EEG data in each epoch were analyzed using source-localized spectral analysis, phase-lag index, and graph theoretical techniques. Posterior alpha power was significantly depressed during unconsciousness, and gradually approached baseline levels over the 3 h recovery period. Phase-lag index did not distinguish between states of consciousness or stages of recovery. Network efficiency was significantly depressed and network clustering coefficient was significantly increased during unconsciousness; these graph theoretical measures returned to baseline during the 3 h recovery period. Posterior alpha power may be a potential biomarker for normal recovery of functional brain networks after general anesthesia.
Blain-Moraes, S., Tarnal, V., Vanini, G., Bel-Behar, T., Janke, E., Picton, P., … Mashour, G. A. (2017). Network efficiency and posterior alpha patterns are markers of recovery from general anesthesia: A high-density electroencephalography study in healthy volunteers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00328