Neural Correlates of Unconsciousness in Large-Scale Brain Networks

Trends Neurosci. 2018 Mar;41(3):150-160. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Feb 3.


The biological basis of consciousness is one of the most challenging and fundamental questions in 21st century science. A related pursuit aims to identify the neural correlates and causes of unconsciousness. We review current trends in the investigation of physiological, pharmacological, and pathological states of unconsciousness at the level of large-scale functional brain networks. We focus on the roles of brain connectivity, repertoire, graph-theoretical techniques, and neural dynamics in understanding the functional brain disconnections and reduced complexity that appear to characterize these states. Persistent questions in the field, such as distinguishing true correlates, linking neural scales, and understanding differential recovery patterns, are also addressed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Unconsciousness / physiopathology*