“How does the human brain create consciousness and what happens to the thinking brain when a patient is anesthetized? Is consciousness completely removed? What is the neuronal basis of the anesthetic effect? These and similar questions are investigated in Dr. Hudetz’s research laboratory in the Department of Anesthesiology. The projects focus on the behavior of neuronal circuits of the brain during spontaneous ongoing activity and sensory stimulation in fully awake and anesthetized conditions.
One of the hypotheses currently being tested emphasizes the causal roles of neuronal communication and information integration underlying anesthetic-induced loss and return of consciousness. Fundamental information about the effect of anesthesia on neuronal communication and information processing in the cerebral cortex is obtained through the long-term recording of about one hundred neurons with implanted multielectrode arrays. The results are analyzed with mathematical models of neuronal circuits and with information theory. Changes in cognitive functioning from wakefulness to anesthesia are assessed in human volunteers by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that yields dynamic maps of activity across the entire brain.
Several aspects of consciousness research are ongoing in the Center for Consciousness Science where Dr. Hudetz is Scientific Director. In close collaboration with Dr. George Mashour, MD, PhD, Director and UnCheol Lee, PhD, Associate Director of the Center, the ultimate goal of the Center’s research is to better understand the neurobiological basis of human consciousness, its disruption in patients with neurological disorders, and its modulation by various interventions including the administration of anesthetics.”