The neural mechanisms of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness have yet to be fully elucidated, in part because of the diverse molecular targets of anesthetic agents. We demonstrate, using intracortical recordings in macaque monkeys, that information transfer between structurally connected cortical regions is disrupted during ketamine anesthesia, despite preserved primary sensory representation. Furthermore, transfer entropy, an information-theoretic measure of directed connectivity, decreases significantly between neuronal units in the anesthetized state. This is the first direct demonstration of a general anesthetic disrupting corticocortical information transfer in the primate brain. Given past studies showing that more commonly used GABAergic drugs inhibit surrogate measures of cortical communication, this finding suggests the potential for a common network-level mechanism of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness.
Keywords: Anesthesia; Consciousness; Functional connectivity; Information integration; Ketamine; Sensorimotor.
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