Studying at the University of Liège, Pierre Maquet successively obtained a degree in medicine (1986), a PhD in biomedical sciences (1990), neurology (1991), and a higher education teaching certificate (1998). He began his research work in the neurology department, led by Professor Georges Frank, on the theme of epilepsy. However, he quickly became interested in functional neuroimaging, which became the keystone for his studies. He mainly focused on modified states of consciousness – coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, hypnotic state, general anaesthesia – but, above all, sleep. He worked as a research fellow at the Wellcome Trust Functional Imaging Laboratory (University College London) between 2000 and 2002, where he learnt about functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). He introduced this technique to ULg, where he took up the post of FNRS director of research at the Cyclotron Research Centre (CRC).
Given the links between sleep and memory, Pierre Maquet focused much of his work on mnesic consolidation (memory 'implantation'). After receiving the Fondation Simone et Pierre Clerdent prize, which consists of funding to support a three-year medical research project in the field of human neurological diseases, he integrated the issue of the influence of circadian rhythms on brain function into his research. This was his last piece of research as a physiologist as he is now the head of the neurology department at Liège CHU.