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"Call It a Reversible Coma, Not Sleep"

February 28, 2011

The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Emery Neal Brown, professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School, professor of computational neuroscience at M.I.T., and  practicing physician, at Massachusetts General Hospital, where anesthesia was first demonstrated in 1846. Dr. Brown describes anesthesia as being similar to "a reversible drug-induced coma" that wears off when the drug does. Much is already known about anesthesia, but it is still being explored using MRI and EEG technology in Dr. Brown's lab to see what happens in the brain when a patient goes under. Though sometimes inaccurately described as a state of sleep, activity in the brain during anesthesia is very different from sleep, with some parts becoming more or less active than they would be during sleep or wake states.

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