The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes in electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum in response to decapitation of anaesthetized rats, in order to assess the nociception or otherwise of this procedure. Ten young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were anaesthetized with halothane in oxygen and anaesthesia was maintained at a stable concentration of halothane between 1.20% and 1.25%. The rat's head and neck were placed through the opening of a small animal guillotine so that the blade of the guillotine was positioned over the atlanto-occipial joint of the rat's neck. The EEG was recorded in a five-electrode montage, bilaterally. After recording a 15 min baseline the rat was decapitated by swiftly pressing the guillotine blade and the EEG recording was continued until the signal was isoelectric on both channels. Changes in the median frequency (F50), 95% spectral edge frequency (F95) and total power of the EEG (Ptot) were used to investigate the effects of decapitation. During the first 15 s following decapitation, there were significant increases in the F50 and F95, and a decrease in the Ptot compared with baseline values. There was a clear window of time immediately following decapitation where changes in the EEG frequency spectrum were obvious; these changes in the EEG indices of nociception could be attributed as responses generated by the rat's cerebral cortex following decapitation.
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