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Our group uses multimodal neuroimaging to understand the changes in the brain under anaesthesia and during altered states of consciousness.

Spectrogram of an ultraslow induction and recovery from propofol anaesthesia

We aim to identify and develop objective neurophysiological measures of conscious perception under anaesthesia, and translate these findings to the clinical environment. We previously identified a potential electroencephalographic marker of perception loss under anaesthesia (Ni Mhuircheartaigh*, Warnaby* et al., Science Translational Medicine, 2013).

We observed that saturation of slow wave activity (SWAS) signalled a striking change in how each individual’s brain processes incoming sensory stimuli. At SWAS, we observed a disruption in stereotypical thalamocortical processing and stimulus-evoked activity in a brain network previously associated with severe disorders of consciousness.

We extended this work recently to show that SWAS occurs during surgical anaesthesia (Warnaby*, Sleigh* et al., Anesthesiology 2017), and that delayed emergence from SWAS (termed neural inertia) is linked to confused thinking and delirium on waking, particularly in older individuals.