The Entwined Mysteries of Anesthesia and Consciousness: Is There a Common Underlying Mechanism?

  title={The Entwined Mysteries of Anesthesia and Consciousness: Is There a Common Underlying Mechanism?},
  author={Stuart R. Hameroff},
  • S. Hameroff
  • Published 1 August 2006
  • Biology, Psychology
  • Anesthesiology
THE mechanism by which general anesthetics prevent consciousness remains unknown largely because the mechanism by which brain physiology produces consciousness is unexplained. But the two mysteries seem to share a critical feature—both consciousness and actions of anesthetic gases are mediated through extremely weak London forces (a type of van der Waals force) acting in hydrophobic pockets within dendritic proteins arrayed in synchronized brain systems. Unraveling this common thread may reveal… 
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  • Biology, Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 2007
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The Anesthetic Cascade: A Theory of How Anesthesia Suppresses Consciousness
A body of evidence has now accumulated demonstrating that for many anesthetic agents, the dose required to suppress consciousness exceeds the amnestic dose but is substantially less then that required for surgical immobility during noxious stimuli, suggesting that these three dimensions may be mediated by different regions of the central nervous system.
Consciousness Unbound: Toward a Paradigm of General Anesthesia
Although general anesthesia may be mediated by complex pharmacologic and neurologic mechanisms, it should not abandon the quest for a unitary hypothesis, because the lack of a guiding paradigm may ultimately impede the development of investigation.
Toward a Unified Theory of Narcosis: Brain Imaging Evidence for a Thalamocortical Switch as the Neurophysiologic Basis of Anesthetic-Induced Unconsciousness
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A Field Theory of Consciousness
  • E. John
  • Biology
    Consciousness and Cognition
  • 2001
Evidence is presented herein of invariant features of brain electrical activity found to change reversibly with loss and return of consciousness in a study of 176 patients anesthetized during surgical procedures, leading to a postulation that consciousness is a property of quantum-like processes within a brain field resonating within a core of structures, which may be the neural substrate of consciousness.
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