Background: A growing body of literature addresses the possible long-term cognitive effects of anaesthetics, but no study has delineated the normal trajectory of neural recovery attributable to anaesthesia alone in adults. We obtained resting-state functional MRI scans on 72 healthy human volunteers between ages 40 and 80 (median: 59) yr before, during, and after general anaesthesia with sevoflurane, in the absence of surgery, as part of a larger study on cognitive function postanaesthesia. Methods: Region-of-interest analysis, independent component analysis, and seed-to-voxel analysis were used to characterise resting-state functional connectivity and to differentiate between correlated and anticorrelated connectivity before, during, and after general anaesthesia. Results: Whilst positively correlated functional connectivity remained essentially unchanged across these perianaesthetic states, anticorrelated functional connectivity decreased globally by 35% 1 h after emergence from general anaesthesia compared with baseline, as seen by the region-of-interest analysis. This decrease corresponded to a consistent reduction in expression of canonical resting-state networks, as seen by independent component analysis. All measures returned to baseline 1 day later. Conclusions: The normal perianaesthesia trajectory of resting-state connectivity in healthy adults is characterised by a transient global reduction in anticorrelated activity shortly after emergence from anaesthesia that returns to baseline by the following day. Clinical trial registration: NCT02275026.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-538
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • MRI
  • consciousness
  • functional MRI
  • functional connectivity
  • general anaesthesia
  • recovery


Dive into the research topics of 'Resting-state functional connectivity in early postanaesthesia recovery is characterised by globally reduced anticorrelations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this