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The neural bases of consciousness in the healthy and in the pathological brain

On The March 26, 2018

Martina Corazzol

Team Director - Angela Sirigu

Abstract :

Consciousness processes can be divided into two orthogonal though intimately linked components: the level of consciousness, which refers to the conscious state (wakefulness/arousal), and the content of conscious, which refers to the external inputs perceived and manipulated in a conscious space. I will present two studies from my PhD thesis related to these two components. First, using a well-known sensorimotor conflict paradigm, we investigated the neural correlates of the emergence of content specific motor awareness. Using EEG recordings, we identified the brain sources which we consider the neural fingerprint of consciousness. This same issue was further investigated from a developmental perspective by examining the performances and EEG signals in healthy children. Second we investigated the challenging hypothesis of a potential increase of signs of consciousness in a patient lying in a vegetative state for 15 years, after vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Converging findings, coming from different methods, showed that VNS promoted the spread of cortical signals and metabolism which we found correlated with behavioral improvement. Taken together, these findings suggest the implication of the parietal lobe in the neural correlates of both level and content-specific consciousness.