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Modeling the effects of anesthesia on the electroencephalogram

American Physical Society
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  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Pharmacology


Changes to the electroencephalogram (EEG) observed during general anesthesia are modeled with a physiological mean field theory of electrocortical activity. To this end a parametrization of the postsynaptic impulse response is introduced which takes into account pharmacological effects of anesthetic agents on neuronal ligand-gated ionic channels. Parameter sets for this improved theory are then identified which respect known anatomical constraints and predict mean firing rates and power spectra typically encountered in human subjects. Through parallelized simulations of the eight nonlinear, two-dimensional partial differential equations on a grid representing an entire human cortex, it is demonstrated that linear approximations are sufficient for the prediction of a range of quantitative EEG variables. More than 70 000 plausible parameter sets are finally selected and subjected to a simulated induction with the stereotypical inhaled general anesthetic isoflurane. Thereby 86 parameter sets are identified that exhibit a strong “biphasic” rise in total power, a feature often observed in experiments. A sensitivity study suggests that this “biphasic” behavior is distinguishable even at low agent concentrations. Finally, our results are briefly compared with previous work by other groups and an outlook on future fits to experimental data is provided.

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