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A comparison of GABA-ergic (propofol) and non-GABA-ergic (dexmedetomidine) sedation on visual and motor cortical oscillations, using magnetoencephalography

Saxena, Neeraj ORCID:, Muthukumaraswamy, Suresh D., Richmond, Lewys, Babic, Adele, Singh, Krish D. ORCID:, Hall, Judith E. ORCID:, Wise, Richard G. ORCID: and Shaw, Alexander D. ORCID: 2021. A comparison of GABA-ergic (propofol) and non-GABA-ergic (dexmedetomidine) sedation on visual and motor cortical oscillations, using magnetoencephalography. NeuroImage 245 , 118659. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118659

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Studying changes in cortical oscillations can help elucidate the mechanistic link between receptor physiology and the clinical effects of anaesthetic drugs. Propofol, a GABA-ergic drug produces divergent effects on visual cortical activity: increasing induced gamma-band responses (GBR) while decreasing evoked responses. Dexmedetomidine, an α2- adrenergic agonist, differs from GABA-ergic sedatives both mechanistically and clinically as it allows easy arousability from deep sedation with less cognitive side-effects. Here we use magnetoencephalography (MEG) to characterize and compare the effects of GABA-ergic (propofol) and non-GABA-ergic (dexmedetomidine) sedation, on visual and motor cortical oscillations. Sixteen male participants received target-controlled infusions of propofol and dexmedetomidine, producing mild-sedation, in a placebo-controlled, cross-over study. MEG data was collected during a combined visuomotor task. The key findings were that propofol significantly enhanced visual stimulus induced GBR (44% increase in amplitude) while dexmedetomidine decreased it (40%). Propofol also decreased the amplitudes of the Mv100 (visual M100) (27%) and Mv150 (52%) visual evoked fields (VEF), whilst dexmedetomidine had no effect on these. During the motor task, neither drug had any significant effect on movement related gamma synchrony (MRGS), movement related beta de-synchronisation (MRBD) or Mm100 (movement-related M100) movement-related evoked fields (MEF), although dexmedetomidine slowed the Mm300. Dexmedetomidine increased (92%) post-movement beta synchronisation/rebound (PMBR) power while propofol reduced it (70%, statistically non- significant). Overall, dexmedetomidine and propofol, at equi-sedative doses, produce contrasting effects on visual induced GBR, VEF, PMBR and MEF. These findings provide a mechanistic link between the known receptor physiology of these sedative drugs with their known clinical effects and may be used to explore mechanisms of other anaesthetic drugs on human consciousness.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1053-8119
Funders: Wellcome Trust, MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 November 2021
Date of Acceptance: 14 October 2021
Last Modified: 23 May 2024 01:06

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