A vertebrate model to reveal neural substrates underlying the transitions between conscious and unconscious states.
ABSTRACT: The field of neuropharmacology has not yet achieved a full understanding of how the brain transitions between states of consciousness and drug-induced unconsciousness, or anesthesia. Many small molecules are used to alter human consciousness, but the repertoire of underlying molecular targets, and thereby the genes, are incompletely understood. Here we describe a robust larval zebrafish model of anesthetic action, from sedation to general anesthesia. We use loss of movement under three different conditions, spontaneous movement, electrical stimulation or a tap, as a surrogate for sedation and general anesthesia, respectively. Using these behavioral patterns, we find that larval zebrafish respond to inhalational and IV anesthetics at concentrations similar to mammals. Additionally, known sedative drugs cause loss of spontaneous larval movement but not to the tap response. This robust, highly tractable vertebrate model can be used in the detection of genes and neural substrates involved in the transition from consciousness to unconsciousness.
Project description:General anesthesia (GA) is a reversible drug-induced state of altered arousal required for more than 60,000 surgical procedures each day in the United States alone. Sedation and unconsciousness under GA are associated with stereotyped electrophysiological oscillations that are thought to reflect profound disruptions of activity in neuronal circuits that mediate awareness and cognition. Computational models make specific predictions about the role of the cortex and thalamus in these oscillations. In this paper, we provide in vivo evidence in rats that alpha oscillations (10-15 Hz) induced by the commonly used anesthetic drug propofol are synchronized between the thalamus and the medial prefrontal cortex. We also show that at deep levels of unconsciousness where movement ceases, coherent thalamocortical delta oscillations (1-5 Hz) develop, distinct from concurrent slow oscillations (0.1-1 Hz). The structure of these oscillations in both cortex and thalamus closely parallel those observed in the human electroencephalogram during propofol-induced unconsciousness. During emergence from GA, this synchronized activity dissipates in a sequence different from that observed during loss of consciousness. A possible explanation is that recovery from anesthesia-induced unconsciousness follows a "boot-up" sequence actively driven by ascending arousal centers. The involvement of medial prefrontal cortex suggests that when these oscillations (alpha, delta, slow) are observed in humans, self-awareness and internal consciousness would be impaired if not abolished. These studies advance our understanding of anesthesia-induced unconsciousness and altered arousal and further establish principled neurophysiological markers of these states.
Project description:Recent studies indicate that spontaneous low-frequency fluctuations (LFFs) of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals are driven by the slow (<0.1Hz) modulation of ongoing neuronal activity synchronized locally and across remote brain regions. How regional LFFs of the BOLD fMRI signal are altered during anesthetic-induced alteration of consciousness is not well understood. Using rs-fMRI in 15 healthy participants, we show that during administration of propofol to achieve loss of behavioral responsiveness indexing unconsciousness, the fractional amplitude of LFF (fALFF index) was reduced in comparison to wakeful baseline in the anterior frontal regions, temporal pole, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, and amygdala. Such changes were absent in large areas of the motor, parietal, and sensory cortices. During light sedation characterized by the preservation of overt responsiveness and therefore consciousness, fALFF was reduced in the subcortical areas, temporal pole, medial orbital frontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and cerebellum. Between light sedation and deep sedation, fALFF was reduced primarily in the medial and dorsolateral frontal areas. The preferential reduction of LFFs in the anterior frontal regions is consistent with frontal to sensory-motor cortical disconnection and may contribute to the suppression of consciousness during general anesthesia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:General anesthesia (GA) provides an invaluable experimental tool to understand the essential neural mechanisms underlying consciousness. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown the functional integration and segregation of brain functional networks during anesthetic-induced alteration of consciousness. However, the organization pattern of hubs in functional brain networks remains unclear. Moreover, comparisons with the well-characterized physiological unconsciousness can help us understand the neural mechanisms of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness. METHODS:Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed during wakefulness, mild propofol-induced sedation (m-PIS), and deep PIS (d-PIS) with clinical unconsciousness on 8 healthy volunteers and wakefulness and natural sleep on 9 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Large-scale functional brain networks of each volunteer were constructed based on 160 regions of interest. Then, rich-club organizations in brain functional networks and nodal properties (nodal strength and efficiency) were assessed and analyzed among the different states and groups. RESULTS:Rich-clubs in the functional brain networks were reorganized during alteration of consciousness induced by propofol. Firstly, rich-club nodes were switched from the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), angular gyrus, and anterior and middle insula to the inferior parietal lobule (IPL), inferior parietal sulcus (IPS), and cerebellum. When sedation was deepened to unconsciousness, the rich-club nodes were switched to the occipital and angular gyrus. These results suggest that the rich-club nodes were switched among the high-order cognitive function networks (default mode network [DMN] and fronto-parietal network [FPN]), sensory networks (occipital network [ON]), and cerebellum network (CN) from consciousness (wakefulness) to propofol-induced unconsciousness. At the same time, compared with wakefulness, local connections were switched to rich-club connections during propofol-induced unconsciousness, suggesting a strengthening of the overall information commutation of networks. Nodal efficiency of the anterior and middle insula and ventral frontal cortex was significantly decreased. Additionally, from wakefulness to natural sleep, a similar pattern of rich-club reorganization with propofol-induced unconsciousness was observed: rich-club nodes were switched from the DMN (including precuneus and PCC) to the sensorimotor network (SMN, including part of the frontal and temporal gyrus). Compared with natural sleep, nodal efficiency of the insula, frontal gyrus, PCC, and cerebellum significantly decreased during propofol-induced unconsciousness. CONCLUSIONS:Our study demonstrated that the rich-club reorganization in functional brain networks is characterized by switching of rich-club nodes between the high-order cognitive and sensory and motor networks during propofol-induced alteration of consciousness and natural sleep. These findings will help understand the common neurological mechanism of pharmacological and physiological unconsciousness.
Project description:Spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) and auditory evoked potentials (AEP) have been suggested to monitor the level of consciousness during anesthesia. As both signals reflect different neuronal pathways, a combination of parameters from both signals may provide broader information about the brain status during anesthesia. Appropriate parameter selection and combination to a single index is crucial to take advantage of this potential. The field of machine learning offers algorithms for both parameter selection and combination. In this study, several established machine learning approaches including a method for the selection of suitable signal parameters and classification algorithms are applied to construct an index which predicts responsiveness in anesthetized patients. The present analysis considers several classification algorithms, among those support vector machines, artificial neural networks and Bayesian learning algorithms. On the basis of data from the transition between consciousness and unconsciousness, a combination of EEG and AEP signal parameters developed with automated methods provides a maximum prediction probability of 0.935, which is higher than 0.916 (for EEG parameters) and 0.880 (for AEP parameters) using a cross-validation approach. This suggests that machine learning techniques can successfully be applied to develop an improved combined EEG and AEP parameter to separate consciousness from unconsciousness.
Project description:A controversy has developed in recent years over the roles of frontal and posterior cortices in mediating consciousness and unconsciousness. Disruption of posterior cortex during sleep appears to suppress the contents of dreaming, yet activation of frontal cortex appears necessary for perception and can reverse unconsciousness under anesthesia. We used anesthesia to study how regional cortical disruption, mediated by slow wave modulation of broadband activity, changes during unconsciousness in humans. We found that broadband slow-wave modulation enveloped posterior cortex when subjects initially became unconscious, but later encompassed both frontal and posterior cortex when subjects were more deeply anesthetized and likely unarousable. Our results suggest that unconsciousness under anesthesia comprises several distinct shifts in brain state that disrupt the contents of consciousness distinct from arousal and awareness of those contents.
Project description:The level and richness of consciousness depend on information integration in the brain. Altered interregional functional interactions may indicate disrupted information integration during anesthetic-induced unconsciousness. How anesthetics modulate the amount of information in various brain regions has received less attention. Here, we propose a novel approach to quantify regional information content in the brain by the entropy of the principal components of regional blood oxygen-dependent imaging signals during graded propofol sedation. Fifteen healthy individuals underwent resting-state scans in wakeful baseline, light sedation (conscious), deep sedation (unconscious), and recovery (conscious). Light sedation characterized by lethargic behavioral responses was associated with global reduction of entropy in the brain. Deep sedation with completely suppressed overt responsiveness was associated with further reductions of entropy in sensory (primary and higher sensory plus orbital prefrontal cortices) but not high-order cognitive (dorsal and medial prefrontal, cingulate, parietotemporal cortices and hippocampal areas) systems. Upon recovery of responsiveness, entropy was restored in the sensory but not in high-order cognitive systems. These findings provide novel evidence for a reduction of information content of the brain as a potential systems-level mechanism of reduced consciousness during propofol anesthesia. The differential changes of entropy in the sensory and high-order cognitive systems associated with losing and regaining overt responsiveness are consistent with the notion of "disconnected consciousness", in which a complete sensory-motor disconnection from the environment occurs with preserved internal mentation.
Project description:Whether unique to humans or not, consciousness is a central aspect of our experience of the world. The neural fingerprint of this experience, however, remains one of the least understood aspects of the human brain. In this paper we employ graph-theoretic measures and support vector machine classification to assess, in 12 healthy volunteers, the dynamic reconfiguration of functional connectivity during wakefulness, propofol-induced sedation and loss of consciousness, and the recovery of wakefulness. Our main findings, based on resting-state fMRI, are three-fold. First, we find that propofol-induced anesthesia does not bear differently on long-range versus short-range connections. Second, our multi-stage design dissociated an initial phase of thalamo-cortical and cortico-cortical hyperconnectivity, present during sedation, from a phase of cortico-cortical hypoconnectivity, apparent during loss of consciousness. Finally, we show that while clustering is increased during loss of consciousness, as recently suggested, it also remains significantly elevated during wakefulness recovery. Conversely, the characteristic path length of brain networks (i.e., the average functional distance between any two regions of the brain) appears significantly increased only during loss of consciousness, marking a decrease of global information-processing efficiency uniquely associated with unconsciousness. These findings suggest that propofol-induced loss of consciousness is mainly tied to cortico-cortical and not thalamo-cortical mechanisms, and that decreased efficiency of information flow is the main feature differentiating the conscious from the unconscious brain.
Project description:General anesthetics are routinely used to induce unconsciousness, and much is known about their effects on receptor function and single neuron activity. Much less is known about how these local effects are manifest at the whole-brain level nor how they influence network dynamics, especially past the point of induced unconsciousness. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with nonhuman primates, we investigated the dose-dependent effects of anesthesia on whole-brain temporal modular structure, following loss of consciousness. We found that higher isoflurane dose was associated with an increase in both the number and isolation of whole-brain modules, as well as an increase in the uncoordinated movement of brain regions between those modules. Conversely, we found that higher dose was associated with a decrease in the cohesive movement of brain regions between modules, as well as a decrease in the proportion of modules in which brain regions participated. Moreover, higher dose was associated with a decrease in the overall integrity of networks derived from the temporal modules, with the exception of a single, sensory-motor network. Together, these findings suggest that anesthesia-induced unconsciousness results from the hierarchical fragmentation of dynamic whole-brain network structure, leading to the discoordination of temporal interactions between cortical modules.
Project description:On sedation motivated by the clinical needs for safety and reliability, recent studies have attempted to identify brain-specific signatures for tracking patient transition into and out of consciousness, but the differences in neurophysiological effects between 1) the sedative types and 2) the presence/absence of surgical stimulations still remain unclear. Here we used multimodal electroencephalography-functional near-infrared spectroscopy (EEG-fNIRS) measurements to observe electrical and hemodynamic responses during sedation simultaneously. Forty healthy volunteers were instructed to push the button to administer sedatives in response to auditory stimuli every 9-11 s. To generally illustrate brain activity at repetitive transition points at the loss of consciousness (LOC) and the recovery of consciousness (ROC), patient-controlled sedation was performed using two different sedatives (midazolam (MDZ) and propofol (PPF)) under two surgical conditions. Once consciousness was lost via sedatives, we observed gradually increasing EEG power at lower frequencies (<15 Hz) and decreasing power at higher frequencies (>15 Hz), as well as spatially increased EEG powers in the delta and lower alpha bands, and particularly also in the upper alpha rhythm, at the frontal and parieto-occipital areas over time. During ROC from unconsciousness, these spatio-temporal changes were reversed. Interestingly, the level of consciousness was switched on/off at significantly higher effect-site concentrations of sedatives in the brain according to the use of surgical stimuli, but the spatio-temporal EEG patterns were similar, regardless of the sedative used. We also observed sudden phase shifts in fronto-parietal connectivity at the LOC and the ROC as critical points. fNIRS measurement also revealed mild hemodynamic fluctuations. Compared with general anesthesia, our results provide insights into critical hallmarks of sedative-induced (un)consciousness, which have similar spatio-temporal EEG-fNIRS patterns regardless of the stage and the sedative used.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Recent studies have been shown that functional connectivity of cerebral areas is not a static phenomenon, but exhibits spontaneous fluctuations over time. There is evidence that fluctuating connectivity is an intrinsic phenomenon of brain dynamics that persists during anesthesia. Lately, point process analysis applied on functional data has revealed that much of the information regarding brain connectivity is contained in a fraction of critical time points of a resting state dataset. In the present study we want to extend this methodology for the investigation of resting state fMRI spatial pattern changes during propofol-induced modulation of consciousness, with the aim of extracting new insights on brain networks consciousness-dependent fluctuations. METHODS: Resting-state fMRI volumes on 18 healthy subjects were acquired in four clinical states during propofol injection: wakefulness, sedation, unconsciousness, and recovery. The dataset was reduced to a spatio-temporal point process by selecting time points in the Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC) at which the signal is higher than a given threshold (i.e., BOLD intensity above 1 standard deviation). Spatial clustering on the PCC time frames extracted was then performed (number of clusters?=?8), to obtain 8 different PCC co-activation patterns (CAPs) for each level of consciousness. RESULTS: The current analysis shows that the core of the PCC-CAPs throughout consciousness modulation seems to be preserved. Nonetheless, this methodology enables to differentiate region-specific propofol-induced reductions in PCC-CAPs, some of them already present in the functional connectivity literature (e.g., disconnections of the prefrontal cortex, thalamus, auditory cortex), some others new (e.g., reduced co-activation in motor cortex and visual area). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, our results indicate that the employed methodology can help in improving and refining the characterization of local functional changes in the brain associated to propofol-induced modulation of consciousness.