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Quantifying conscious states by means of self-initiated brain activity

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Please note: This Zangwill talk will be taking place at 12.00pm

Abstract: Consciousness is seemingly lost and recovered every day, from the moment we fall asleep until we wake up. Although these departures from wakefulness bring about different changes in brain function, behavior, and neurochemistry, they all lead to lack of reported subjective experience. Here, I will show how intrinsic brain activity has been characterized in different states of unconsciousness, such as pharmacologically-induced anesthesia in humans and in noncommunicating states after severe brain injury. These investigations indicate that during unconscious states, cortical long-range correlations are disrupted in both space and time, anticorrelated cortical interactions disappear, and that temporal dynamics are limited to describe specific patterns which are dominated by rigid functional configurations tied to the anatomical connectivity. These data shed light on ongoing brain dynamics in health and disease and pave the way for specific interventions to potentially restore consciousness when it seems lost.

Bio: Athena graduated from the Faculty of Psychology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece in 2005. Soon after, she pursued the Research Master’s in Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, and Psychopathology, at Maastricht University, The Netherlands (2007). Next, she joined the Coma Science Group, University of Liège, Belgium as a doctoral student and received her PhD in Medical Sciences in May 2012. Her postdoctoral research has been conducted at the Brain and Spine Institute, Paris funded by the Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research (FNRS), the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the French Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM). Since October 2018 she is tenured FNRS Research Associate hosted at the GIGA Institute of the University of Liège, Belgium and is heading the Physiology of Cognition Research lab.

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