Doctors don’t want people to regain awareness during surgery because the experiences may be frightening and even traumatic. But on a purely scientific level, these fine-grained alterations in our awareness may help us understand the neural basis of consciousness. If we could understand how these drugs alter the brain and could see when people flicker into consciousness, we could perhaps understand what circuits are important for consciousness itself.
Vaughan Bell on what anesthesia can tell us about consciousness. See also: Three different disciplines – neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and philosophy – share perspectives on what consciousness is and makes us human. (via curiositycounts)