General anesthetics, the chemicals that temporarily ‘put you under,’ have transformed surgery, but doctors and scientists are still learning how these chemicals work.
Judith Lavelle, a reporter for Chemistry & Engineering News, recently spoke with researchers who are investigating these mechanisms (Brainwave Patterns Are Helping To Unveil How Anesthetics Work, CENews, 93(41), p. 34-35, 19 Oct 2015). Some of the researchers had recently studied the effects of different anesthetics on EEG traces in volunteers (see below). Although the molecules nominally have the same gross physiological effect, it is clear that they impact brain function in very different ways.
My advice: be careful with those beautiful brains of yours.