Auditory predictive coding across awareness states under anesthesia: An intracranial electrophysiology study

Kirill V. Nourski, Mitchell Steinschneider, Ariane E. Rhone, Hiroto Kawasaki, Matthew A. Howard, Matthew I. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The systems-level mechanisms underlying loss of consciousness (LOC) under anesthesia remain unclear. General anesthetics suppress sensory responses within higher-order cortex and feedback connections, both critical elements of predictive coding hypotheses of conscious perception. Responses to auditory novelty may offer promise as biomarkers for consciousness. This study examined anesthesia-induced changes in auditory novelty responses over short (local deviant [LD]) and long (global deviant [GD]) time scales, envisioned to engage preattentive and conscious levels of processing, respectively. Electrocorticographic recordings were obtained in human neurosurgical patients (3 male, 3 female) from four hierarchical processing levels: core auditory cortex, non-core auditory cortex, auditory-related, and PFC. Stimuli were vowel patterns incorporating deviants within and across stimuli (LD and GD). Subjects were presented with stimuli while awake, and during sedation (responsive) and following LOC (unresponsive) under propofol anesthesia. LD and GD effects were assayed as the averaged evoked potential and high gamma (70–150 Hz) activity. In the awake state, LD and GD effects were present in all recorded regions, with averaged evoked potential effects more broadly distributed than high gamma activity. Under sedation, LD effects were preserved in all regions, except PFC. LOC was accompanied by loss of LD effects outside of auditory cortex. By contrast, GD effects were markedly suppressed under sedation in all regions and were absent following LOC. Thus, although the presence of GD effects is indicative of being awake, its absence is not indicative of LOC. Loss of LD effects in higher-order cortical areas may constitute an alternative biomarker of LOC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8441-8452
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 26 2018


  • Averaged evoked potential
  • Consciousness
  • Electrocorticography
  • High gamma
  • Human auditory cortex
  • Propofol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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