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Mechanisms of anaesthesia 

Mechanisms of anaesthesia
Chapter:
Mechanisms of anaesthesia
Author(s):

A Jenkins

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199583386.003.0008
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date: 10 August 2020

This chapter will focus on ten papers that have revolutionized our understanding of how general anaesthetics alter the ability of the brain to perceive and interpret the world around us. These papers have each made a specific advance that either at the time, or in hindsight, has contributed directly to our understanding of where and how general anaesthetics exert their effects in the nervous system. Therefore, the focus of this chapter will be on the molecular pharmacology of anaesthetic drugs and the ways in which they alter neurophysiological function. It would be wrong of course to say that general anaesthetic drugs selectively target the nervous system. In addition to their neurological effects, general anaesthetic drugs directly modulate cardiac, vascular, and pulmonary systems and understanding all of these actions is critical to a full understanding of the anesthetized state. However, this chapter considers only those studies that focus mainly on the neuronal actions of these drugs, with a view to understanding what is arguably the most profound effect of anaesthetics: how they reversibly remove awareness and consciousness.

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