New Insights into Anesthesia and Consciousness

Two research groups from the University of Turku have joined forces to investigate the neural mechanisms of anesthetics. In collaboration with Professor Michael Alkire from the University of California (UCI), Docent Harry Scheinin and Professor Antti Revonsuo’s research groups studied the relationship between anesthesia and consciousness as measured by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

The recently released article, titled “Decreased Thalamic Activity Is a Correlate for Disconnectedness during Anesthesia with Propofol, Dexmedetomidine and Sevoflurane But Not S-Ketamine,” sheds light on the differences in brain activities between the connectedness and disconnectedness states after administering different anesthetic agents, including propofol, dexmedetomidine, sevoflurane, and S-ketamine. The results revealed reduced metabolic activity in the thalamus in the disconnectedness state experienced during all anesthetics except for S-ketamine.

The current research builds upon the foundation laid by a previous study called “Imaging the Twilight Zone.” The data collected from this earlier research project has also served as the basis for another published article, “Subjective Experiences during Dexmedetomidine- or Propofol-induced Unresponsiveness and Non-rapid Eye Movement Sleep in Healthy Male Subjects,” conducted at the University of Turku.

The collaborative efforts between the research groups demonstrate a remarkable synergy that has driven this research forward. Their work will deepen the understanding of anesthesia, consciousness, and the intricate workings of the human brain.


Read the first article from here:


You can find more information about the second study from here:


Read the press release from the University of Turku here: 


Read more about a previous PET study that investigated the neural mechanisms of anesthetics from a different perspective: 


Image: Consciousness specific effects and the overall effects on the brain

Image courtesy: Harry Scheinin