EEG-based automatic classification of 'awake' versus 'anesthetized' state in general anesthesia using Granger causality

PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33869. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033869. Epub 2012 Mar 22.


Background: General anesthesia is a reversible state of unconsciousness and depression of reflexes to afferent stimuli induced by administration of a "cocktail" of chemical agents. The multi-component nature of general anesthesia complicates the identification of the precise mechanisms by which anesthetics disrupt consciousness. Devices that monitor the depth of anesthesia are an important aide for the anesthetist. This paper investigates the use of effective connectivity measures from human electrical brain activity as a means of discriminating between 'awake' and 'anesthetized' state during induction and recovery of consciousness under general anesthesia.

Methodology/principal findings: Granger Causality (GC), a linear measure of effective connectivity, is utilized in automated classification of 'awake' versus 'anesthetized' state using Linear Discriminant Analysis and Support Vector Machines (with linear and non-linear kernel). Based on our investigations, the most characteristic change of GC observed between the two states is the sharp increase of GC from frontal to posterior regions when the subject was anesthetized, and reversal at recovery of consciousness. Features derived from the GC estimates resulted in classification of 'awake' and 'anesthetized' states in 21 patients with maximum average accuracies of 0.98 and 0.95, during loss and recovery of consciousness respectively. The differences in linear and non-linear classification are not statistically significant, implying that GC features are linearly separable, eliminating the need for a complex and computationally expensive non-linear classifier. In addition, the observed GC patterns are particularly interesting in terms of a physiological interpretation of the disruption of consciousness by anesthetics. Bidirectional interaction or strong unidirectional interaction in the presence of a common input as captured by GC are most likely related to mechanisms of information flow in cortical circuits.

Conclusions/significance: GC-based features could be utilized effectively in a device for monitoring depth of anesthesia during surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Support Vector Machine
  • Young Adult