The specific circuit mechanisms through which anesthetics induce unconsciousness have not been completely characterized. We recorded neural activity from the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices and thalamus while maintaining unconsciousness in non-human primates (NHPs) with the anesthetic propofol. Unconsciousness was marked by slow frequency (~1 Hz) oscillations in local field potentials, entrainment of local spiking to Up states alternating with Down states of little spiking, and decreased coherence in frequencies above 4 Hz. Thalamic stimulation awakened anesthetized NHPs and reversed the electrophysiologic features of unconsciousness. Unconsciousness is linked to cortical and thalamic slow frequency synchrony coupled with decreased spiking, and loss of higher-frequency dynamics. This may disrupt cortical communication/integration.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience