What happens to your brain when you are under general anesthesia? Dr. Emery Brown explains that under general anesthesia your brain is not turned off but is very dynamic. Electrical oscillations in the brain can be recorded using an electroencephalogram (EEG). Brown shows how oscillations induced by anesthesia interfere with normal communication between different regions of the brain. By following oscillations of different frequencies, it is possible to monitor and adjust a patient’s level of unconsciousness under anesthesia.
All general anesthetics act in the brain stem region to induce slow brain oscillations. Brown shares EEG spectrograms that clearly show that the brain response to anesthesia varies with age. Younger brains show strong oscillations while those of older brains show weaker oscillations. Interestingly, not all brains “age” at the same rate. By using EEG spectrogram to visualize brain dynamics, anesthesiologists can optimize drug dosage for individual patients. Brown closes his talk by presenting recent research suggesting that it may be possible to “turn the brain back on” after general anesthesia as a way to speed patient recovery.
Dr. Emery Brown is an expert in understanding the neurophysiological basis for how general anesthesia works and passionate about his desire to pass this understanding on to others. Recent technological advances allow large amounts of data to be recorded from the brain. Brown’s lab is developing statistical tools and algorithms to analyze and interpret this… Continue Reading