Cortical Responses to Vowel Sequences in Awake and Anesthetized States: A Human Intracranial Electrophysiology Study

Kirill V. Nourski, Mitchell Steinschneider, Ariane E. Rhone, Bryan M. Krause, Rashmi N. Mueller, Hiroto Kawasaki, Matthew I. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Elucidating neural signatures of sensory processing across consciousness states is a major focus in neuroscience. Noninvasive human studies using the general anesthetic propofol reveal differential effects on auditory cortical activity, with a greater impact on nonprimary and auditory-related areas than primary auditory cortex. This study used intracranial electroencephalography to examine cortical responses to vowel sequences during induction of general anesthesia with propofol. Subjects were adult neurosurgical patients with intracranial electrodes placed to identify epileptic foci. Data were collected before electrode removal surgery. Stimuli were vowel sequences presented in a target detection task during awake, sedated, and unresponsive states. Averaged evoked potentials (AEPs) and high gamma (70-150 Hz) power were measured in auditory, auditory-related, and prefrontal cortex. In the awake state, AEPs were found throughout studied brain areas; high gamma activity was limited to canonical auditory cortex. Sedation led to a decrease in AEP magnitude. Upon LOC, there was a decrease in the superior temporal gyrus and adjacent auditory-related cortex and a further decrease in AEP magnitude in core auditory cortex, changes in the temporal structure and increased trial-to-trial variability of responses. The findings identify putative biomarkers of LOC and serve as a foundation for future investigations of altered sensory processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5435-5448
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • auditory cortex
  • consciousness
  • evoked potential
  • high gamma
  • propofol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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