Are neocortical gamma waves related to consciousness?

Brain Res. 2000 Feb 14;855(2):217-24. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(99)02351-3.


Previous research has shown that neocortical gamma waves (approximately 30-80 Hz) are continuously present during low voltage fast neocortical activity (LVFA) occurring during waking or active sleep. Gamma waves occur in a burst-suppression pattern in association with large amplitude slow waves during quiet sleep or anesthesia. The present experiments show that continuous gamma activity is also present in rats during LVFA occurring during surgical anesthesia (with ether, isoflurane or urethane) and that a burst-suppression pattern of gamma activity occurs during large amplitude slow waves occurring in the waking state either spontaneously in undrugged rats or as a result of treatment with parachlorophenylalanine and scopolamine. The amplitude of gamma activity occurring during anesthesia is variable but is often greater than it is in the normal waking state. It is concluded that the pattern of neocortical gamma wave activity is strongly related to the presence or absence of large amplitude slow waves but is quite independent of the state of behavioral arousal. Whether or not gamma wave activity is related to subjective awareness is a very difficult question which cannot be answered with certainty at the present time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Male
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Wakefulness / physiology