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Marcello Massimini


  • Fellow
  • Brain, Mind & Consciousness


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.


  • James S. McDonnell Scholar Award, James S. McDonnell Foundation, 2013
  • Early Career Award, World Sleep Federation, 2011
  • Premio SIPF, Italian Society of Psychophysiology, 2010
  • Sanofi-Aventis Research Award, European Society of Sleep Research, 2006
  • Pickwick Post-Doctoral Fellowship, American Sleep Foundation, 2002

Relevant Publications

  • Massimini, M., & Tononi, G. (2018). Sizing Up Consciousness: Towards an Objective Measure of the Capacity for Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sarasso, S., Boly, M., Napolitani, M.,… Massimini, M. (2015). Consciousness and complexity during unresponsiveness induced by propofol, xenon, and ketamine. Current Biology, 25(23), 3099–3105. DOI:
  • Adenauer, G.C., Gosseries, O., Rosanova, M.,… Massimini, M. (2013). A theoretically based index of consciousness independent of sensory processing and behavior. Science Translational Medicine, 198(5), 198ra105. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006294
  • Rosanova, M., Gosseries, O., Casarotto, S.,… Massimini, M. (2012). Recovery of cortical effective connectivity and recovery of consciousness in vegetative patients. Brain, 135(4), 1308–1320. DOI:
  • Massimini, M., Ferrarelli, F., Huber, R., et al. (2005). Breakdown of cortical effective connectivity during sleep. Science, 309(5744), 2228–32. DOI:

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