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Giulio Tononi, MD, PhD
University of Wisconsin - Madison
School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry
6001 Research Park Blvd
Madison, WI 53719

Giulio Tononi is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has held faculty positions in Pisa, New York, San Diego and Madison, Wisconsin, where he is Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Tononi and collaborators have pioneered several complementary approaches to study sleep. These include genomics, proteomics, fruit fly models, rodent models employing multiunit / local field potential recordings in behaving animals, in vivo voltammetry and microscopy, high-density EEG recordings and transcranial magnetic stimulation in humans, and large-scale computer models of sleep and wakefulness. This research has led to a comprehensive hypothesis on the function of sleep, the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, wakefulness leads to a net increase in synaptic strength, and sleep is necessary to reestablish synaptic homeostasis. The hypothesis has implications for understanding the effects of sleep deprivation and for developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to sleep disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders. Another focus of Dr. Tononi's work is the integrated information theory of consciousness: a scientific theory of what consciousness is, how it can be measured, how it is realized in the brain and, of course, why it fades when we fall into dreamless sleep and returns when we dream. The theory is being tested with neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and computer models. In 2005, Dr. Tononi received the NIH Director's Pioneer Award for his work on sleep mechanism and function, and in 2008 he was made the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine and is a Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science.

Tononi, G. PHI: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul, Pantheon Books, 2012.

Laureys, S, Tononi, G. The Neurology of Consciousness: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropathology. Academic Press, 2009.

Tononi G. Galileo e il fotodiodo, Laterza, Bari, 2003 (to be translated in French, German, and Spanish).

Edelman GM, Tononi G. A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. Basic Books, 2000 (translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese).

Sporns O, Tononi G. Selectionism and the Brain. Academic Press, 1994.


1. Maret S, Faraguna U, Nelson AB, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Sleep and wake modulate spine turnover in the adolescent mouse cortex. Nat Neurosci., 14(11):1418-20, 2011.

2. Bushey D, Tononi G, Cirelli C. Sleep and synaptic homeostasis: structural evidence in Drosophila. Science, 332(6037):1576-1581, 2011.

3. Vyazovskiy VV, Olcese U, Hanlon EC, Nir Y, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Local sleep in awake rats. Nature, 472(7344):443-7, 2011.

4. Nir Y, Staba RJ, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Fried I, Tononi G. Regional slow waves and spindles in human sleep. Neuron, 70(1):153-69, 2011.

5. Olcese U, Esser SK, Tononi G. Sleep and synaptic renormalization: A computational study. J Neurophysiol. 104(6):3476-3493, 2010.

6. Ferrarelli F, Peterson MJ, Sarasso S, Riedner BA, Murphy MJ, Benca RM, Bria P, Kalin NH, Tononi G. Thalamic dysfunction in Schizophrenia suggested by whole-night deficits in slow and fast spindles. Am J Psychiatry 167(11):1339-1348, 2010.

7. Ferrarelli F, Massimini M, Sarasso S, Casali A, Riedner BA, Angelini G, Tononi G, Pearce RA. Breakdown in cortical effective connectivity during midazolam-induced loss of consciousness. PNAS, 107(6): 2681-2686, 2010.

8. Nir Y, Tononi G. Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(2):88-100, 2010.

9. Massimini M, Boly M, Casali A, Rosanova M, Tononi G. A perturbational approach for evaluating the brain's capacity for consciousness. Progress in Brain Research, 177:201-214, 2009.

10. Vyazovskiy VV, Olcese U, Lazimy YM, Faraguna U, Esser SK, Williams JC, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Cortical firing and sleep homeostasis. Neuron, 63:865-878, 2009.

11. Balduzzi D, Tononi G. Qualia: the geometry of integrated information. PLoS Computational Biology, 5(8) e1000462:1-24, 2009.

12. Landsness EC, Crupi D, Hulse BK, Peterson MJ, Huber R, Ansari H, Coen M, Cirelli C, Benca RM, Ghilardi MF, Tononi G. Sleep-dependent improvement in visuo-motor learning: a causal role for slow waves. Sleep, 32:1273-1284, 2009.

13. Tononi G. Consciousness as integrated information: a provisional manifesto. Biological Bulletin, 215:216-242, 2008.

14. Alkire MT, Hudetz AG, Tononi G. Consciousness and anesthesia. Science, 322:876-880, 2008.

15. Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Pfister-Genskow M, Faraguna U, Tononi G. Molecular and electrophysiological evidence for net synaptic potentiation in wake and depression in sleep. Nature Neuroscience, 11:200-8, 2008.

16. Ferrarelli F, Huber R, Peterson MJ , Massimini M, Murphy M, Riedner BA, Watson A, Bria P, Tononi G. Reduced sleep spindle activity in schizophrenia patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164: 483-492, 2007.

17. Massimini M, Ferrarelli F, Esser SK, Riedner BA, Huber R, Murphy M, Peterson MJ, Tononi G. Triggering sleep slow waves by transcranial magnetic stimulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104:8496-501, 2007.

18. Tononi G, Cirelli C. Sleep and synaptic homeostasis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 10:49-62, 2006.

19. Massimini M, Ferrarelli F, Huber R, Esser SK, Singh H, Tononi G. Breakdown of cortical effective connectivity during sleep. Science 309(5744):2228-32, 2005.

20. Cirelli C, Bushey D, Hill SL, Huber R, Kreber R, Ganetzky B, Tononi G. Reduced sleep in Drosophila mutants, Nature, 434: 1087-1092, 2005.

21. Tononi G. An Information Integration Theory of Consciousness. BMC Neuroscience, 5:42, 2004.

22. Huber R, Ghilardi MF, Massimini M, Tononi G. Local sleep and learning. Nature, 430:78-81, 2004.

23. Tononi G, Edelman GM. Consciousness and Complexity. Science, 282:1846-1851, 1998.

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