Memory for words presented during general anesthesia was studied in two experiments. In Experiment 1, surgical patients (n=80) undergoing elective procedures under general anesthesia were presented shortly before and during surgery with words via headphones. At the earliest convenient time after surgery (within 5 h) and 24 h later, memory was tested by asking patients to complete auditorily presented word stems with the first word that came to mind and to leave out words they remembered having heard earlier (exclusion task). Moreover, patients were requested to perform a "yes/no" forcedchoice recognition task to assess recognition memory for both the pre- and intraoperative words. Memory for the material presented during anesthesia was demonstrated immediately after surgery and 24 h later by means of both tasks. In a second similar experiment (n=80), the results were replicated. These findings show that anesthetized patients can process information that was presented intraoperatively.,
Memory and Cognition
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bonebakker, A.E, Bonke, B, Klein, J, Wolters, G, Stijnen, Th, Passchier, J, & Merikle, P.M. (1996). Information processing during general anesthesia: Evidence for unconscious memory. Memory and Cognition, 24(6), 766–776. doi:10.3758/BF03201101