By Peter Bandettini
Episode produced by Anastasia Brovkin and Nils Muhlert
In this wide ranging discussion, Peter and Melanie Boly address everything related to her work on consciousness. They start with some of her early work on resting state as a modulator for detecting subtle stimuli and then get into a discussion on a working definition of consciousness and her work on understanding the neural correlates of consciousness. Melanie is a proponent of the idea that many, if not all, of the fundamental physical correlates of consciousness reside in the posterior part of the brain. Peter and Melanie also discuss Integrated Information Theory (IIT): how it helps us begin to understand consciousness. Lastly they consider her studies of sleep and how dreaming is not limited to REM sleep. This interesting discussion straddles theoretical work and practical clinical applications of brain imaging.
Melanie Boly, MD, PhD. Melanie Boly is a neurologist and neuroscientist who has worked for more than fifteen years in the field of altered states of consciousness such as vegetative state, sleep and anesthesia. She has worked with and has been mentored by such people as Stephen Laureys, Adrian Owen, Marcelo Massimini, and Karl Friston. Her research is directed at combining neuroimaging techniques such as PET, fMRI, TMS-EEG, and high-density EEG to a theoretical framework, known as the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, hoping to uncover the neural mechanisms associated with levels of consciousness as well as its contents in healthy subjects and neurological patients. She has over 150 publications and is Associate Editor of the journals Neuroimage, Frontiers in Consciousness Research, Frontiers in Brain Imaging Methods and Neuroscience of Consciousness. Currently, she is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin in the Neurology department, with a secondary appointment in Psychology. She received her MD in 2005 and her Ph.D. in 2009 both from the University of Liege, Belgium. From 2009-2014 she did post docs at the University of Liege, University College London, and then the University of Wisconsin, Madison. By all measures, Dr. Boly is a rising star in advancing our understanding of the neural correlates of altered states of consciousness. She also collaborates with many luminaries in consciousness research including Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi.