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BACKGROUND: Subcortical structures, including the basal ganglia, have been proposed to be crucial for arousal, consciousness, and behavioural responsiveness. How the basal ganglia contribute to the loss and recovery of consciousness during anaesthesia has, however, not yet been well characterised. METHODS: Twelve patients with advanced Parkinson's disease, who were undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrode implantation in the subthalamic nucleus (STN), were included in this study. Local field potentials (LFPs) were recorded from the DBS electrodes and EEG was recorded from the scalp during induction of general anaesthesia (with propofol and sufentanil) and during tracheal intubation. Neural signatures of loss of consciousness and of the expected arousal during intubation were sought in the STN and EEG recordings. RESULTS: Propofol-sufentanil anaesthesia resulted in power increases in delta, theta, and alpha frequencies, and broadband power decreases in higher frequencies in both STN and frontal cortical areas. This was accompanied by increased STN-frontal cortical coherence only in the alpha frequency band (119 [68]%; P=0.0049). We observed temporal activity changes in STN after tracheal intubation, including power increases in high-beta (22-40 Hz) frequency (98 [123]%; P=0.0064) and changes in the power-law exponent in the power spectra at lower frequencies (2-80 Hz), which were not observed in the frontal cortex. During anaesthesia, the dynamic changes in the high-gamma power in STN LFPs correlated with the power-law exponent in the power spectra at lower frequencies (2-80 Hz). CONCLUSIONS: Apart from similar activity changes in both STN and cortex associated with anaesthesia-induced unresponsiveness, we observed specific neuronal activity changes in the STN in response to the anaesthesia and tracheal intubation. We also show that the power-law exponent in the power spectra in the STN was modulated by tracheal intubation in anaesthesia. Our results support the hypothesis that subcortical nuclei may play an important role in the loss and return of responsiveness.

Original publication




Journal article


Br j anaesth

Publication Date





67 - 76


anaesthesia, consciousness, electrophysiology, local field potential, power law, propofol, subthalamic nucleus, tracheal intubation, Anesthesia, General, Anesthetics, Intravenous, Deep Brain Stimulation, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Intubation, Intratracheal, Male, Middle Aged, Parkinson Disease, Propofol, Subthalamic Nucleus, Sufentanil