Simultaneous electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging of general anesthesia

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Mar;1157:61-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2008.04119.x.


It has been long appreciated that anesthetic drugs induce stereotyped changes in electroencephalogram (EEG), but the relationships between the EEG and underlying brain function remain poorly understood. Functional imaging methods including positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have become important tools for studying how anesthetic drugs act in the human brain to induce the state of general anesthesia. To date, no investigation has combined functional MRI with EEG to study general anesthesia. We report here a paradigm for conducting combined fMRI and EEG studies of human subjects under general anesthesia. We discuss the several technical and safety problems that must be solved to undertake this type of multimodal functional imaging and show combined recordings from a human subject. Combined fMRI and EEG exploits simultaneously the high spatial resolution of fMRI and the high temporal resolution of EEG. In addition, combined fMRI and EEG offers a direct way to relate established EEG patterns induced by general anesthesia to changes in neural activity in specific brain regions as measured by changes in fMRI blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects*
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / blood
  • Brain / physiology
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Propofol / adverse effects
  • Propofol / blood
  • Tracheostomy


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Propofol