A critical component of anesthesia is the loss of sensory perception. Propofol is the most widely used drug for general anesthesia, but the neural mechanisms of how and when it disrupts sensory processing are not fully understood. We analyzed local field potential and spiking recorded from Utah arrays in auditory cortex, associative cortex, and cognitive cortex of nonhuman primates before and during propofol-mediated unconsciousness. Sensory stimuli elicited robust and decodable stimulus responses and triggered periods of stimulus-related synchronization between brain areas in the local field potential of awake animals. By contrast, propofol-mediated unconsciousness eliminated stimulus-related synchrony and drastically weakened stimulus responses and information in all brain areas except for auditory cortex, where responses and information persisted. However, we found stimuli occurring during spiking up states triggered weaker spiking responses than in awake animals in auditory cortex, and little or no spiking responses in higher order areas. These results suggest that propofol's effect on sensory processing is not just because of asynchronous down states. Rather, both down states and up states reflect disrupted dynamics.

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