Saturday, November 16, 2013

Professor Giulio Tononi

Prof. Giulio Tononi
image wikimedia
English wikipedia tells:
"Giulio Tononi is a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who holds the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine, as well as a Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science, at the University of Wisconsin.

Tononi was born in Trento, Italy, and obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neurobiology at the Sant' Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy. He is an authority on sleep, and in particular the genetics and etiology of sleep.

Tononi and collaborators have pioneered several complementary approaches to study sleep. These include
  • genomics 
  • proteomics 
  • fruit fly models 
  • rodent models employing 
    • multiunit / local field potential recordings in behaving animals 
    • in vivo voltammetry
    • microscopy 
  • high-density EEG recordings and 
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in humans, 
  • large-scale computer models of sleep and wakefulness. 

This research has led to a comprehensive hypothesis on the function of sleep (proposed with sleep researcher Chiara Cirelli), the Synaptic Homeostasis Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, wakefulness leads to a net increase in synaptic strength, and sleep is necessary to reestablish synaptic homeostasis.

The hypothesis has implications for understanding the effects of sleep deprivation and for developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Tononi is a leader in the field of consciousness studies, and has co-authored a book on the subject with Gerald Edelman. He developed the Integrated Information Theory (IIT): a scientific theory of what consciousness is, how it can be measured, how it is realized in the brain and, why it fades when we fall into dreamless sleep and returns when we dream. The theory is being tested with neuroimaging, TMS, and computer models.

His work has been described as "the only really promising fundamental theory of consciousness" by Christof Koch."
Read the entire article from wikipedia