October 29th, 2020

Free lecture tonight on sleep, consciousness


By Bobinec, Greg on March 2, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

A world renowned expert on sleep and consciousness will be presenting a free public talk in the BMO Auditorium at the University of Lethbridge this evening.

Dr. Guilio Toroni, one of the world’s foremost experts in sleep and consciousness, is joining the university in advance of the annual Brain Awareness Week activities, and will be presenting Consciousness & Its Place in Nature, which explores various topics through an academic lecture.

“Dr. Tononi is a world leader in the field on consciousness studies and his mathematical theory of consciousness is currently accepted as one of the most compelling explanations about consciousness,” says Majid Mohajerani, neuroscience professor at CAIP Chair in Brain Health and Dementia at the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience.

“His work on understanding how information propagates through the brain, and the role of sleep in synaptic remodelling and plasticity, is of great interest to many neuroscientists. These processes, which have been studied in humans, rodents and even fruit flies, have direct relevance to the work we do here at the U of L in understanding the function of sleep and its role in learning and memory formations.”

Tononi received his medical degree from the University of Pisa, Italy, where he specialized in psychiatry. After serving as a medical officer in the army, he obtained a PhD in neuroscience as a fellow of the Scuola Superiore for his work on sleep regulation. From 1990 to 2000, he was a member of The Neurosciences Institute, first in New York and then in San Diego. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry, Distinguished Professor in Consciousness Science, the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness.

Tononi will talk about his model of consciousness called Integrated Information Theory (IIT). IIT is a comprehensive theory of what consciousness is, what determines its quality and quantity, and how it emerges from casual structures such as neural networks. It examines why certain parts of the brain give rise to experience and others do not, why consciousness vanishes during slow wave sleep and seizures, despite continuing neural activity, and how unconscious processes interact with conscious ones.

His free public talk, Consciousness & Its Place in Nature, takes place this evening at 6:30 p.m. in the U of L’s BMO Auditorium, Science Commons Level 7.

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