Special Talk

Michael Wang

A Model of Consciousness


by Prof. Dr. Michael Wang,
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Leicester, UK



I have spent the last 25 years collaborating with anaesthetists attempting to address the problem of accidental awareness during general anaesthesia and investigating intra-operative cognitive processing. I have also conducted some anaesthetic research on myself and have also required major surgery under general anaesthesia in recent years (and have presented much of this at previous InPACT conferences). Despite an enormous body of research knowledge of the neuropharmacology of anaesthesia, and impressive levels of practical skill and competence, it is generally accepted that anaesthetists have little idea what they are doing when they render a patient unconscious. It is common for anaesthetists to exclaim in exasperation “But we have no model of consciousness!” After all this time, I think I have gained some insights from my research and experience in the operating theatre, and have the temerity to imagine I might be able to propose a crude model that might have some utility. I will outline the model and the evidence I draw on which has led to this proposal.