High Doses of Ketamine Can Temporarily Shut Down the Brain, Study Finds

The study found that high doses of ketamine can cause a complete shutdown of EEG activity, which could explain the “state of complete oblivion” associated with a K-hole.

Researchers attempting to find a cure for Huntington’s disease may have accidentally discovered how ketamine produces the dissociative sensation commonly described as a “K-hole.”

In a new study published in the Scientific Reports journal, researchers identified two unique brain phenomena that could help explain exactly how ketamine affects the brain. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England initially conducted this study to discover how therapeutic drugs affect people diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.

Veterinary medicine has used ketamine as an anesthetic and analgesic for years. Recently, however, researchers have discovered that it can be an effective treatment for depression and PTSD. Previous research on this dissociative drug has focused on its anesthetic properties, which are fairly well understood at this point, but “the effects of ketamine on brain activity have rarely been probed,” the study authors explain.

Since ketamine has similar effects on humans and animals, the researchers chose 12 sheep as their test subjects. Sheep are recognized by the medical community as a suitable preclinical model of human nervous system disorders, which makes them useful in research on Huntington’s disease and similar disorders.

ix of the sheep were given a single high dose of 24mg/kg of ketamine, while the other six subjects received a lower dose. Each animal’s brain activity was measured using electroencephalography (EEG), which can record immediate changes in brain waves. All of the sheep were placed in veterinary slings, preventing them from falling over or otherwise injuring themselves while sedated.

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