Mounting evidence has shown that general anesthetic agents commonly used clinically can cause anesthetic-related neurotoxicity in the developing brains of mammals, potentially causing long-term neurological impairment. This results in growing interest and concern among the public. Here, we present an overview of the relevant findings from non-human primates, arguably the very best model for studies of developmental neurotoxicity. These studies have shown that varying degrees of neurodegeneration occur as a result of anesthesia type, duration/dose of exposure, the timing of exposure, and brain region of interest, combined with subsequent alterations in cognitive assessments. Specifically, the rapid advancement of minimally or non-invasive neuroimaging methodologies and availability provided more sophisticated techniques for investigating brain structure and function. Neuroimaging methodologies have shown some of their most significant promise in studies of anesthetic-induced developmental neurotoxicity.

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