Editorial Views  |   March 2017
Network Inefficiency: A Rosetta Stone for the Mechanism of Anesthetic-induced Unconsciousness
Author Notes
  • From the Department of Anesthesiology, Center for Consciousness Science, Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Corresponding article on page 419.
    Corresponding article on page 419.×
  • Accepted for publication November 16, 2016.
    Accepted for publication November 16, 2016.×
  • Address correspondence to Dr. Mashour: gmashour@med.umich.edu
Article Information
Editorial Views / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems
Editorial Views   |   March 2017
Network Inefficiency: A Rosetta Stone for the Mechanism of Anesthetic-induced Unconsciousness
Anesthesiology 3 2017, Vol.126, 366-368. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001510
Anesthesiology 3 2017, Vol.126, 366-368. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001510
UNDERSTANDING the mechanism of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness remains important for anesthesiology. A precise answer to the longstanding question of how these drugs work would fortify the scientific underpinnings of the field and create new opportunities for improved clinical care through novel anesthetic designs or improved brain monitoring. On the one hand, there is something common to all of the drugs in our armamentarium—they render our patients unconscious or, at least, oblivious to interventional insults. On the other hand, these drugs are structurally, pharmacologically, and neurobiologically diverse. There does not appear to be a trivial explanation at the level of molecular or even neural targets, but could there be some mechanistic Rosetta stone that translates the variety of anesthetic actions to the common language of unconsciousness? The study of dexmedetomidine by Hashmi et al.1  provides further evidence that impaired information transfer in inefficient brain networks might be of central importance.
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