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The human electroencephalogram (EEG) constitutes a nonstationary, nonlinear electrophysiological signal resulting from synchronous firing of neurons in thalamocortical structures of the brain. Due to the complexity of the brain's physiological structures and its rhythmic oscillations, analysis of EEG often utilises spectral analysis methods.Aim: to improve clinical monitoring of neurophysiological signals and to further explain basic principles of functional mechanisms in the brain during anaesthesia.Material and methods. In this paper we used Empirical Mode decomposition (EMD), a novel spectral analysis method especially suited for nonstationary and nonlinear signals. EMD and the related Hilbert-Huang Transform (HHT) decompose signal into constituent Intrinsic Mode Functions (IMFs). In this study we applied EMD to analyse burst-suppression (BS) in the human EEG during induction of general anaesthesia (GA) with propofol. BS is a state characterised by cyclic changes between significant depression of brain activity and hyper-active bursts with variable duration, amplitude, and waveform shape. BS arises after induction into deep general anaesthesia after an intravenous bolus of general anaesthetics. Here we studied the behaviour of BS using the burst-suppression ratio (BSR).Results. Comparing correlations between EEG and IMF BSRs, we determined BSR was driven mainly by alpha activity. BSRs for different spectral components (IMFs 1-4) showed differing rates of return to baseline after the end of BS in EEG, indicating BS might differentially impair neural generators of low-frequency EEG oscillations and thalamocortical functional connectivity.Conclusion. Studying BS using EMD represents a novel form of analysis with the potential to elucidate neurophysiological mechanisms of this state and its impact on post-operative patient prognosis.

Original publication




Journal article


General Reanimatology



Publication Date





65 - 79