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How general anesthetics work: from the perspective of reorganized connections within the brain.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

General anesthesia is critical for various procedures and surgeries. Despite the widespread use of anesthetics, their precise mechanisms remain poorly understood. Anesthetics inevitably act on the brain, primarily through the modulation of target receptors. Even if the action is specific to an individual neuron, however, long-range effects can occur due to the tremendous interconnectedness of neuronal activity. The strength of this connectivity can be understood using mathematical models that allow for the study of neuronal connectivity dynamics. These models also allow researchers to develop hypotheses on the candidate mechanisms of action of different types of anesthesia. This review highlights the theoretical background associated with the study of the mechanisms of action of anesthetics. We propose a candidate framework that describes how anesthetics act on the brain and consciousness in general.

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