Scientific models attempt to be the best representations of the available facts. The so-called “wet blanket” model of anesthetic action assumed that anesthetic drugs distribute evenly to all brain regions and nonspecifically dampen down the fire of global neuronal activity, leading to the unresponsive anesthetized state. Over time it has become clear that specific brain regions contribute to different behavioral anesthetic effects, such as amnesia (hippocampus) and immobility (spinal cord). Technological advances that enable ever greater spatial and physiologic resolution continue to refine our understanding of where and how anesthetics work in the brain.

In this issue of Anesthesiology, Melonakos et al. report on anesthetic interactions within the dorsal pontine region of the ascending reticular activating system, known as the parabrachial nucleus. Utilizing a cutting-edge technique known as Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs...

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