Brandon Guest Blogs: Consciously Unconscious

This Guest Blog Post is from Brandon Rokos, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:
Waking up midway through the procedure isn’t something most people think about before going under the knife. But for a small group whose senses remain active throughout the surgery, this is the reality. These patients report being able to hear the equipment buzzing around them as they lay on the operating table unable to move. Even worse is that anesthesiologists cannot reliably test to see whether a patient is fully unconscious or not. However, a recent neuropsychological study at Massachusetts General Hospital used electrical signals to detect the brain function of subjects in hopes of monitoring their level of sedation and understand what really constitutes being fully unconscious. Researchers administered a general anesthetic called propofol and tracked electrical signals while the subjects performed a task to test their consciousness. It is hoped that the usage of distinct electrical signals can reveal more about the brain and its relationship to the psychological behaviors of consciousness and unconsciousness, and furthermore, fuel research that ensures patients are properly sedated before medical procedures.