It remains unclear how specific cortical regions contribute to the brain overall capacity for consciousness. Clarifying this could help distinguish between theories of consciousness. Here, we investigate the association between markers of regionally specific (de)activation and the brain overall capacity for consciousness. We recorded electroencephalographic (EEG) responses to cortical electrical stimulation in 6 rats, and computed Perturbational Complexity Index state-transition (PCIst), which has been extensively validated as an index of the capacity for consciousness in humans. We also estimated the balance between activation and inhibition of specific cortical areas with the ratio between high and low frequency power (HF/LF) from spontaneous EEG activity at each electrode. We repeated these measurements during wakefulness, and under the influence of ketamine anaesthesia at two doses: the minimal dose needed to induce behavioural unresponsiveness and twice this dose. We found that PCIst was only slightly reduced from wakefulness to light ketamine anaesthesia, but dropped significantly down with deeper anaesthesia. The high-dose effect was selectively associated with reduced HF/LF ratio in the posteromedial cortex, which strongly correlated with PCIst. Conversely, behavioural unresponsiveness induced by light ketamine anaesthesia, was associated with similar spectral changes in frontal, but not posterior cortical regions. These findings seem to support the claim that the posteromedial cortex may play a primary role for the capacity for consciousness. Such region-specific associations between cortical activation and the overall capacity for consciousness must be accounted for by theories of consciousness.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience