Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Put Me Under!

“Scalpel!” calls the surgeon. You’d like to yell, too, since you are a patient who has just come to in the middle of an operation-the knockout drops that the anesthesiologist gave you have worn off. But you can’t move a muscle, because the paralyzing drug you were also given is still working just fine.

Nightmare scenarios like this one, dubbed “awareness” episodes, affect one in 500 surgery patients (or about 40,000 each year in the U.S.). Existing methods to detect awakening, which include measuring heart activity and brain waves, are far from perfect. To improve on them, experimental psychologist Henry Bennett invented the FACE monitor. This device detects micro-expressions-say, barely perceptible grimaces of pain-with electrodes that measure voltages in four groups of facial muscles. Bennett says the software he’s written can identify the emotion behind the signals, which originate deep in the brain. The FACE monitor is being developed by his Chatham, N.J., company, Patient Comfort.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.