Inauguration of Prof. Logothetis in Athens

University of Athens awarded Nikos Logothetis Distinguished Honorary Professor and Doctorate

May 08, 2019

On 07 May 2019 Nikos Logothetis, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, was awarded the highest honorary academic title, that of Distinguished Honorary Professor and Doctorate in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Ethniko ke Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon) in Greece.

The Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University, Prof. Meletios-Athanasios K. Demopoulos, introduced Prof. Logothetis and stressed that "Prof. Logothetis enjoys international recognition in the field of neuroscience, as shown by his remarkable and extensive academic work, the very large number of citations, his invitations to teach at the world's largest universities, and the numerous awards and distinctions". Following the introduction, Prof. Charalabos X. Papageorgiou, Director of the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Athens, presented Prof. Logothetis’ work. In his speech, Mr. Papageorgiou stressed that Prof. Logothetis, beyond his work on the physiological underpinnings of our cognitive capacities, "successfully develops, implements, and optimizes internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary approaches”.

Specifically, Prof. Logothetis’ research has aimed to understand the organisation of brain networks underlying our cognitive capacities. Brains are known to have sensory pathways processing information coming from our sensory organs, such as the eye, the ear and the nose. However, perception and cognition is “synthesized” from both the activity of such pathways and pre-existing experience and knowledge, in a manner that is very hard to comprehend by only examining brain structures specialized in sensory processing. Over the last three decades, his research has thus focused on developing a technology that goes beyond local measurements of activity in a single brain structure – say in the thalamus receiving information from the eye. Instead, it permits the combination of electrophysiological measurements in isolated brain sites with the global activity observed in the entire brain. Understanding the interactions between brain structures during actions such as decision-making, learning, and memory storing is the only way to gain insights into the function and malfunction of the brain.

With the aforementioned facts in mind, the Department for Physiology of Cognitive Processes led by Prof. Logothetis at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen developed and refined an internationally acclaimed methodology that enables the concurrent intracranial recording of local neural activity and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of animals’ entire brain. With this strategy, they have learned novelties related to perception and unravelled – for example – the effects of direct electrical stimulation of a brain region on large-scale networks, a result that may be critical for clinical applications, such as the deep-brain stimulation used in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

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