Marcello Massimini’s research is devoted to understanding changes in thalamocortical networks when consciousness fades and recovers, such as when we sleep and reawaken.
After studying EEG oscillations in cortical neurons during anesthesia, he performed the first high-density EEG recordings in sleeping humans, to describe the spatial-temporal dynamics of sleep slow oscillations. He then focused on developing a novel technique (TMS and simultaneous hd-EEG) for studying cortico-cortical interactions from a perturbative perspective. Using this approach during wakefulness, sleep, dreaming, different types of anesthesia and brain injury, he demonstrated that consciousness is tied to the brain’s capacity to integrate information. These experiments shed new light on the mechanisms of consciousness loss and recovery and led to the development of a bedside index of brain complexity, which has important consequences for the stratification of non-responsive patients. In addition to neurophysiology, Massimini is interested in the theoretical and philosophical implications of the neuroscience of consciousness.: Ceremony of the Innovation Prize Award