Education  |   November 2018
Role of Network Science in the Study of Anesthetic State Transitions
Author Notes
  • From the Center for Consciousness Science, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • This article is featured in “This Month in Anesthesiology,” page 1A.
    This article is featured in “This Month in Anesthesiology,” page 1A.×
  • This article has a video abstract.
    This article has a video abstract.×
  • Submitted for publication November 16, 2017. Accepted for publication March 20, 2018.
    Submitted for publication November 16, 2017. Accepted for publication March 20, 2018.×
  • Address correspondence to Dr. Mashour: Center for Consciousness Science, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1H247 UH, SPC-5048, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-5048. gmashour@med.umich.edu. Information on purchasing reprints may be found at www.anesthesiology.org or on the masthead page at the beginning of this issue. Anesthesiology’s articles are made freely accessible to all readers, for personal use only, 6 months from the cover date of the issue.
Article Information
Education / Review Article / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems
Education   |   November 2018
Role of Network Science in the Study of Anesthetic State Transitions
Anesthesiology 11 2018, Vol.129, 1029-1044. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002228
Anesthesiology 11 2018, Vol.129, 1029-1044. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002228
Abstract

The heterogeneity of molecular mechanisms, target neural circuits, and neurophysiologic effects of general anesthetics makes it difficult to develop a reliable and drug-invariant index of general anesthesia. No single brain region or mechanism has been identified as the neural correlate of consciousness, suggesting that consciousness might emerge through complex interactions of spatially and temporally distributed brain functions. The goal of this review article is to introduce the basic concepts of networks and explain why the application of network science to general anesthesia could be a pathway to discover a fundamental mechanism of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness. This article reviews data suggesting that reduced network efficiency, constrained network repertoires, and changes in cortical dynamics create inhospitable conditions for information processing and transfer, which lead to unconsciousness. This review proposes that network science is not just a useful tool but a necessary theoretical framework and method to uncover common principles of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness.