Characterization of Phase Transition in the Thalamocortical System during Anesthesia-Induced Loss of Consciousness
- Characterization of Phase Transition in the Thalamocortical System during Anesthesia-Induced Loss of Consciousness
- 황은진; 김승환; 한경림; 최지현
- Issue Date
- PLoS ONE
- VOL 7, NO 12, e50580-1-e50580-8
- The thalamocortical system plays a key role in the breakdown or emergence of consciousness, providing bottom-up
information delivery from sensory afferents and integrating top-down intracortical and thalamocortical reciprocal signaling.
A fundamental and so far unanswered question for cognitive neuroscience remains whether the thalamocortical switch for
consciousness works in a discontinuous manner or not. To unveil the nature of thalamocortical system phase transition in
conjunction with consciousness transition, ketamine/xylazine was administered unobtrusively to ten mice under a forced
working test with motion tracker, and field potentials in the sensory and motor-related cortex and thalamic nuclei were
concomitantly collected. Sensory and motor-related thalamocortical networks were found to behave continuously at
anesthesia induction and emergence, as evidenced by a sigmoidal response function with respect to anesthetic
concentration. Hyperpolarizing and depolarizing susceptibility diverged, and a non-discrete change of transitional
probability occurred at transitional regimes, which are hallmarks of continuous phase transition. The hyperpolarization
curve as a function of anesthetic concentration demonstrated a hysteresis loop, with a significantly higher anesthetic level
for transition to the down state compared to transition to the up state. Together, our findings concerning the nature of
phase transition in the thalamocortical system during consciousness transition further elucidate the underlying basis for the
ambiguous borderlines between conscious and unconscious brains. Moreover, our novel analysis method can be applied to
systematic and quantitative handling of subjective concepts in cognitive neuroscience.
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