06 December 2007, 18.30

Faculty Presentation: Marcello Massimini (Milan)

“Sleep and consciousness: from theory to measurements”

Introduction by Stephan A. Brandt (Berlin), Vision and Motor Group

During deep NREM sleep consciousness fades, but cortical neurons remain active, keep receiving information from the periphery and can display patterns of synchronous activity. Why then is consciousness reduced? According to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (Tononi 2004 what is critical for consciousness are not firing rates, sensory input or synchronization per se, but rather the ability of a system to integrate information. If consciousness is the capacity to integrate information, then the brain should be able to generate consciousness to the extent that it has a large repertoire of available states (information), yet it cannot be decomposed into a collection of causally independent subsystems (integration). A key prediction stemming from this hypothesis is that such ability should be greatly reduced in deep NREM sleep: the dreamless brain either breaks down into causally independent modules, shrinks its repertoire of possible responses, or both. I will report the results of a series of experiments (Massimini et al., Science 2005; Massimini et al., PNAS 2007) in which we employed a combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation and high-density electroencephalography (TMS/hd-EEG) to directly test this prediction in humans.

Marcello Massimini, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Neurophysiology at University of Milan

Professor Dr. Stephan A. Brandt, Neurologische Klinik, CCM, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Berlin NeuroImaging Center

Programme 2007 (pdf 72 kb)
Map and Directions to Lecture Hall (pdf 105 kb)

All are welcome!



Hörsaal Ebene 3 der Poliklinik (Lecture Hall Level 3)
Alte Nervenklinik (Clinic for Neurology)
Charité Campus Mitte
10117 Berlin
(Internal address on campus: Bonhoefferweg 3)


Annette Winkelmann
030 20931706