Sleep, Plasticity and Conscious Experience (SPACE), IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca

Molecular Mind Laboratory (MoMiLab)

Giulio Bernardi
Assistant Professor
Piazza San Francesco, 19
+39 0583 43 26 610
Research Domain
  • Basic Human
  • Methodology / Technology
  • Clinical
  • Sleep Physiology-Neurophysiology in Human
  • Instrumentation-Methodology

Laboratory description

Traditionally, sleep and wakefulness have been considered as two global, mutually exclusive states. However, this view has been challenged by the discovery that sleep and wakefulness are locally regulated and that islands of these two states may often coexist in the same individual. Importantly, the local regulation of sleep seems to be key for many of the known functions of this physiological state, including the maintenance of brain functional efficiency, the consolidation or stabilization of new memories and the modulation of mood and emotional reactivity. Local changes in brain activity during sleep may also explain the emergence of particular conscious experiences in the form of dreams, and may modulate the level of sensory disconnection that is essential for a restorative sleep. On the other hand, during wakefulness, the reiterated activation of specific brain areas may lead to a state of functional fatigue, characterized by the appearance of local, sleep-like episodes. These events seem to have important consequences for behavior and cognition and may contribute to explain the known effects of sleep loss. Given these premises, alterations in the local regulation of sleep and wakefulness may represent the pathophysiological basis for symptoms observed in many sleep disorders, but also in some psychiatric or neurological disorders.

Additional Descriptors, Keywords


  • The relationship between slow waves and conscious experiences in sleep
  • The behavioral and neural correlates of local sleep-like episodes during wakefulness
  • The cortical and subcortical correlates of sleep slow waves and arousals
  • The anatomo-functional bases of sensory disconnection during sleep


Title:  PhD MD

Name:  Michele Bellesi

Institution:  University of Camerino

Title:  MD

Name:  Francesca Siclari

Institution:  Lausanne University Hospital

Title:  PhD MD

Name:  Giulio Tononi

Institution:  University of Wisconsin

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