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Purpose of review To summarize recent in-vitro and in-vivo research on molecular mechanisms of general anesthetics' actions. Recent findings Classes of general anesthetics with distinct clinical profiles appear to induce amnesia, hypnosis, and immobility via different molecular targets. Propofol, etomidate, and barbiturates produce profound amnesia and hypnosis, but weak immobility, by enhancing the activity of specific gamma-aminobutyric acid typeA receptors. In contrast, nitrous oxide, xenon,doi:10.1097/aco.0b013e32816678a5 pmid:17620835 fatcat:a7h7dudz4fhaxknpl2lmdbltny