About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us

Brain Halts Forming Memories When Patient is Under Anaesthesia

by Medindia Content Team on October 10, 2007 at 12:09 PM
Font : A-A+

Brain Halts Forming Memories When Patient is Under Anaesthesia

A recent research has provided insight into how the brain functions when patients are anaesthetized. Neuroscientists reckon that the brain's pathways stop interpreting speeches and storing memories when under anaesthesia.

Matt Davis of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, the UK, believes that the same may be true for people as they doze off, without the inducement of sleep by drugs.


Twelve volunteers were studied when they were under the influence of varying amounts of an anaesthetic called propofol, which induced varying levels of drowsiness.

The researchers played them recordings of speech or other sounds, and monitored their brains using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging.

It was found that the brains of the volunteers were more active in response to speech than to generic noise, suggesting that they still recognised spoken words.

However, the researchers noticed among the drowsiest volunteers that the part of the brain involved with the more subtle job of untangling words that can have alternative meanings depending on context or spelling (such as 'bark', or 'pear/pair') was inactive in them.

This part had also stopped forming memories of speeches when the volunteers were drowsy, said the researchers.

According to them, the findings indicate that the brain shuts down higher-level aspects of speech recognition as sleep starts to set in, making it hard to remember or understand what was said in the moments before sleep.

Anaesthetist David Menon of the University of Cambridge says that the results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also suggest that speech comprehension can suffer even when people are only lightly sedated, or when they are slightly sleepy.

The researchers are of the opinion that their findings may help better understand the degree of awareness experienced by patients in operating theatres.

"We don't want to overdose but we want to provide a measure of how much is 'enough' anaesthetic," Nature magazine quoted Menon as saying.

Although he admits that it is difficult to know exactly what the patients was experiencing simply on the basis of brain scanning, he hopes that more studies of lightly sedated healthy volunteers may provide accurate descriptions of their cognitive experience to go with their brain readings.

"This has to be seen as a first step, where we try and calibrate brain responses," Menon says.

Source: ANI


Recommended Readings

Latest Research News

Is There a Cure for Malaria Through Targeting Biological Clocks?
Malaria parasites sync their molecular rhythms with the internal 24-hour clocks of their hosts, said researchers.
Good Evenings Recovery Leads to Better Work Days
A latest research suggests that the quality of a person's post-work recovery in the evening can impact their mood when they resume work the next day.
Link Between Sleep Apnea and Cognitive Decline
Researchers are working on new strategies and solutions for sleep apnea to ward off a range of health risks including cognitive decline.
Softening Stem Cells Enhances Hair Growth Potential
The scientists discovered that when the stem cells in the hair follicle are made softer, they have a higher chance of growing hair.
Potential New Strategy for Ischemic Stroke Discovered
A combinatorial therapy provided promising beneficial results among people with ischemic stroke.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Brain Halts Forming Memories When Patient is Under Anaesthesia Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests