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Coma and general anesthesia demonstrate important similarities
Date:12/29/2010

n the slower recovery time we see in some patients."

It is these two areas -- losing consciousness and returning to consciousness -- that the researchers believe they might be able to target to provide better therapies for sleep, emergence from coma, and general anesthesia with fewer side effects. And it is by studying general anesthesia -- a process that can be well controlled as well as monitored and studied -- that researchers will likely make progress in understanding all three states of mind, Dr. Schiff says. For example, because coma patients each have individualized damage to their brains due to injury or stroke or hemorrhages, studying recovery from general anesthesia may offer potential opportunities for developing general strategies for intervention, Dr. Schiff says.

"The quantitative neurobehavioral metrics used to monitor recovery from coma could be used to track the emergence from general anesthesia from a functional state that can approximate brain-stem death to states similar to a vegetative state and eventually to a minimally conscious state," the authors write.

"Moreover, understanding this circuit will help us understand the relationship of brain function to consciousness in general -- what it is, how it is produced, and what the variety of brain states truly are," Dr. Schiff says. "Consciousness is a very dynamic process, and now we have a good way of studying it."


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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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