Anesthesia Another Side of Consciousness

The net collective effect of protein dynamics and other factors in the human brain is consciousness. Since the time of ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Assyrians and Greeks, opiate derivatives of the poppy (Papaver somniferum) and other drugs have been used to obtund or ablate consciousness in the face of pain, or for surgical procedures. In the 19th century, anesthetic gases including nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") and diethyl ether were developed. These inhalation anesthetics, when administered properly in a narrow range of concentration, were able to cause a reversible cessation of consciousness. As early anesthetists tragically discovered, excess anesthetic caused inadequate breathing, cardiovascular failure and death. However, when properly used, anesthesia became a boon to mankind. In addition to alleviating the suffering of countless surgical patients, anesthetics also became an important tool in the investigation of consciousness. A trail of experimentation and observation has led to the conclusion that anesthetics inhibit collective dynamic conformational changes in brain proteins.

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