By Catharine Paddock Ph.D.: For More Info, Go Here…
New research in mice reveals for the first time that diverse drugs that induce general anesthesia activate a brain circuit that brings on sleep.
For decades, the standard theory about general anesthesia was that the drugs that induce it inhibit brain activity to the point where the person cannot move or feel pain.
However, in recent times, scientists have come to realize that certain brain circuits are very active during sleep.
The most common destination turned out to be the supraoptic nucleus.
The neuroendocrine cells in this tiny region of the brain release a variety of hormones, including vasopressin, a hormone that serves many functions, including helping to regulate blood pressure.
The researchers were surprised by this result. They were not expecting to find that the neuroendocrine system had such an active role in general anesthesia.
They then carried out further experiments using advanced chemical and optical techniques that allowed them to switch this particular group of cells on and off in mice.
Switching the cells on caused the mice to stop moving and fall into a deep, slow-wave sleep that typically occurs during unconsciousness. Switching the cells off stopped the mice from being able to fall asleep.