Dr Claudio Babiloni
Associate Professor of Physiology & Head of the Laboratory of Neurosciences of Human Higher Functions.
Place of work / study:
Sapienza University of Rome / ISTAART Electrophysiology PIA
Area of Research:
I investigate the brain rhythms underlying the regulation of vigilance and cognitive functions in aging, with a particular interest in the main progressive neurodegenerative diseases leading to dementia such as Alzheimer’s, Lewy body, and Parkinson’s diseases. The primary methods of this research are EEG and neuroimaging techniques.
How is your work funded?
My research has been and is mainly supported by the European Community under the 7th Framework Program and Horizon 2020 and the Italian Ministries of University (PRIN Projects) and Health (Translational Research Projects). The results of his research have been published in more than 300 full articles that appeared in international journals.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My mother suffered from sporadic late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My father suffers from Alzheimer’s disease too. Will my sweet daughter and I suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the future? I do not think so. My parents (and many people of their generation) did neglect the importance of regular physical activity, Mediterranean diet, deep sleep, and the value to control for body weight carefully, blood pressure, chronic stress, as well as glycemia, homocysteine, cortisol, and cholesterol in the blood. I think that this neglect was fatal rather than the genetic risk. I know the importance to counteract the above risk factors. I am vegetarian (regularly taking omega 3 and Vit B complex in tablets) and regularly practice yoga and tennis. Finally, I think that life is too short to fight our opponents: love and peace.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
Do you believe in academic patrons? Prof. Fabrizio Eusebi was a senior and very influential faculty of my academic Department leading a bright scientific group investigating the physiology and neurobiology of neurons and glia. He was not my mentor or tutor, and we had never cooperated scientifically due to the different areas of our neuroscientific interests. At the early stage of my academic career, he gave me a free research fund of about 50,000 Euro to support my scientific activities. After about five years, he became the Head of an essential public non-academic scientific centre. He gave me full financial support to set up a new EEG lab to study brain activity and higher functions in elite athletes, something very far from his scientific interests. My co-workers and I developed several fundamental studies unveiling some neurophysiological brain mechanisms allowing those athletes to reach great control of their body and mind. It is funny that he did not practice sports, did not follow TV sports events, and never expressed a comment on a sports match or athlete. Academic patrons exist, and I was very lucky to meet one of them.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
I am a Psychologist, and the human mind/consciousness is the centre of gravity of my long travel across science and philosophy. In the flow of consciousness during quiet wakefulness or intense interactions with our physical and social environment, we perceive what happens with the eyes of our whole life represented in the circuits of our brain (cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, etc.). Sadly, the personal cerebral fingerprint of our study in that flow is progressively cancelled during several progressive dementing disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Lewy body diseases. Here the point is not the impairment of episodic or working memory but the cancellation of the self, the whole story of our life. I could not defeat these diseases, but I am there, on the battlefield.
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