A transition in brain state during propofol-induced unconsciousness

Eran A. Mukamel, Elvira Pirondini, Behtash Babadi, Kin Foon Kevin Wong, Eric T. Pierce, P. Grace Harrell, John L. Walsh, Andres F. Salazar-Gomez, Sydney S. Cash, Emad N. Eskandar, Veronica S. Weiner, Emery N. Brown, Patrick L. Purdon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Rhythmic oscillations shape cortical dynamics during active behavior, sleep, and general anesthesia. Cross-frequency phase-amplitude coupling is a prominent feature of cortical oscillations, but its role in organizing conscious and unconscious brain states is poorly understood. Using high-density EEG and intracranial electrocorticography during gradual induction of propofol general anesthesia in humans, we discovered a rapid drug-induced transition between distinct states with opposite phase-amplitude coupling and different cortical source distributions. One state occurs during unconsciousness and may be similar to sleep slow oscillations. A second state occurs at the loss or recovery of consciousness and resembles an enhanced slow cortical potential. These results provide objective electrophysiological landmarks of distinct unconscious brain states, and could be used to help improve EEG-based monitoring for general anesthesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-845
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Anesthesia
  • Cross-frequency coupling
  • Propofol
  • Slow oscillation
  • Unconsciousness
  • α Rhythm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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