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Marcello Massimini Neurophysiologist

Marcello Massiminis 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 anaesthesia, 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 the development of a novel technique (TMS and simultaneous hd-EEG) for studying cortico-cortical interactions by a perturbative perspective. Using this approach during wakefulness, sleep, dreaming, different types of anaesthesia 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. Besides neurophysiology, he is interested in the theoretical and philosophical implications of the neuroscience of consciousness.


James S. McDonnel Scholar Award, James S. McDonnel Foundation , 2013.

Early Career Award, World Sleep Federation (WSF), 2011.

Premio SIPF 2011, Italian Society of Psychophysiology (SIPF) , 2011.

Sanofi-Aventis Research Award, European Society of Sleep Research (ESRS), 2006.

Pickwick Post-Doctoral Fellowship, ’American Sleep Foundation (ASF), 2002.

Relevant Publications

Massimini, Marcello; Ferrarelli, Fabio; Huber, Reto; Esser, Steve K; Singh, Harpreet; Tononi, Giulio; Breakdown of cortical effective connectivity during sleep. Science, 309,5744,2228-2232,2005

Rosanova, Mario; Gosseries, Olivia; Casarotto, Silvia; Boly, Mélanie; Casali, Adenauer G; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie; Mariotti, Maurizio; Boveroux, Pierre; Tononi, Giulio; Laureys, Steven; Massimini, Marcello Recovery of cortical effective connectivity and recovery of consciousness in vegetative patients. Brain,135,4,1308-1320,2012

Casali Adenauer, Gosseries Olivia, Rosanova Mario, Boly Melanie, Sarasso Simone, Casali Karina, Casarotto Silvia, Bruno Marie-Aurelie, Laureys Steven, Tononi Giulio, Massimini Marcello. A theoretically based index of consciousness independent of sensory processing and behavior. Science Translational Medicine 2013 Aug 14;5(198):198ra105.

Sarasso S, Boly M, Napolitani M, Gosseries O, Charland-Verville V, Casarotto S, Rosanova M, Casali AG, Brichant JF, Boveroux P, Rex S, Tononi G, Laureys S, Massimini Marcello. Consciousness and Complexity during Unresponsiveness Induced by Propofol, Xenon, and Ketamine Current Biology 2015 Dec 7;25(23)

Casarotto S, Comanducci A, Rosanova M, Sarasso S, Fecchio M, Napolitani M, Pigorini A, Casali AG, Trimarchi PD, Boly M, Gosseries O, Bodart O, Curto F, Mariotti M, Devalle G, Laureys S, Tononi G, Massimini M. Stratification of unresponsive patients by an independently validated index of brain perturbational complexity. Ann Neurol. 2016 Nov;80(5):718-729.


M. Massimini, G. Tononi “Nulla di più grande. Dalla veglia al sonno, dal coma al sogno: il segreto della coscienza e la sua misura ” Baldini-Castoldi Eds, Agosto 2013 – ISBN 886852033-5, translated in Japanese, Korean, english version in press in with Oxford University Press



Senior Fellow Azrieli Program in Brain, Mind & Consciousness


University of MilanDepartment of Biomedical Clinical Sciences


PhD (Neurophysiology) University of Milan

MD (Medicine) University of Milan



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