Dreams and consciousness

The study of dreams and consciousness

Every night, when we fall asleep, we progressively disengage from the external environment and cease to experience it. Instead, our brain starts to generate an entire world of conscious experiences by itself, encompassing abstract thoughts, vivid images and story-like dreams. Consciousness during sleep may also fade, typically but not exclusively when we enter slow wave sleep early in the night. Which mechanisms underlie these changes in consciousness? We try to answer this question by studying how brain activity, measured with high-density EEG, relates to changes in consciousness during sleep, which we assess using serial awakening paradigms. We also investigate changes in mental activity that occur in sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleepwalking or narcolepsy with the aim of better understanding these conditions.

Methodological approach

Our laboratory is currently equipped with a complete high-density EEG system (Electrical Geodesics, Inc.) and with state-of-the-art complementary instruments and tools for the study of brain activity in both sleep and wake.


Recent abstracts and publications

A comprehensive list of publications authored by Dr. Siclari can be found in the Unisciences database of the University of Lausanne.


  • Siclari F., Bernardi G., Cataldi J, Tononi G. Dreaming in NREM sleep: a high-density EEG study of slow waves and spindles. J. Neurosci. In press.
  • Spiess M., Bernardi G., Kurth S., Ringli M., Wehrle F.M., Jenni O.G., Huber R., Siclari F. How do children fall asleep? A high-density EEG study of slow waves in the transition from wake to sleep. NeuroImage, 2018; 178:23-35.
  • Bernardi G., Siclari F., Handjaras G., Riedner B.A., Tononi G., 2018. Local and Widespread Slow Waves in Stable NREM Sleep: Evidence for Distinct Regulation Mechanisms. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 2018; 12:248
  • Siclari F, Baird B, Perogamvros L, Bernardi G, LaRocque JJ, Riedner B, Boly M, Postle BR, Tononi G. The neural correlates of dreaming. Nat Neurosci, 2017; 20(6):872-878.
  • Siclari F, Tononi G. Local aspects of sleep and wakefulness. Curr Opin Neurobiol 2017; 44:222-227.


  • Cataldi J, Lecci S, Bernardi G, Siclari F. Topographical spectral power changes associated with NREM parasomnia episodes – a high-density EEG study. ESRS Basel, September 2018.
  • Lecci S., Cataldi J, Bernardi G, Haba-Rubio J, Heinzer R, Tononi G, Siclari F. Feeling awake while asleep: a high-density EEG assessment of sleep perception. ESRS Basel, September 2018.
  • Bernardi G, Betta M, Cataldi J, Leo A., Ricciardi E, Haba-Rubio J, Pietrini P, Heinzer R, Siclari F. The effects of acute, short-term visual deprivation on low-frequency EEG activity druing wakefulness and sleep. 2017 World Sleep Congress Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Betta M, Bernardi G, Ricciardi E, Pietrini P, Haba-Rubio J, Siclari F, Heinzer R. Quantifying peripheral sympathetic activation during sleep by means of an automatic method for pulse wave amplitude drop detection. 2017 World Sleep Congress Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Betta M, Bernardi G, Menicucci D, Haba-Rubio J, Heinzer R, Gemignani A, Landi A, Tononi G, Siclari F, "Sponteneous, localized EEG activations in REM sleep: a high-density EEG investigation", 2016 OHBM Annual Meeting, June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Bernardi G, Betta M, Yu X, Ricciardi E, Haba-Rubio J, Heinzer R, Pietrini P, Tononi G, Siclari F, "Regionally specific features of low-frequency EEG oscillations during REM-sleep", 2016 OHBM Annual Meeting, June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland


Dr Francesca Siclari
 Dernière mise à jour le 11/09/2018 à 09:06