In this paper, we review the contribution of our research group to the study of human consciousness by quantitative electroencephalographic
(EEG) techniques. We posit that EEG techniques can be extremely useful for a direct measurement of brain electrophysiological
activity related to human consciousness for their unsurpassable high temporal resolution (milliseconds). This activity can be expressed
in terms of event-related potentials as well as changes of EEG rhythms of interest, for example the dominant alpha rhythms
(about 8-12 Hz). The results of our studies, and those of several independent groups, lead support to the hypothesis that these techniques
provide important insights about the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying cortical neural synchronization/desynchronization and the
regulation of neuromodulatory systems (e.g. dopaminergic, noradrenergic, cholinergic, etc.) at the basis of brain arousal and consciousness
in healthy subjects and in patients with impairment of the consciousness. A possible interaction of these mechanisms and the drugs
administered to patients with consciousness disorders is discussed.
Keywords: Consciousness, electroencephalography (EEG), persistent vegetative state, Alzheimer’s disease.
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