Why do we need sleep? How are sleep states initiated, maintained, and ended? How does sleep impact normal brain functions? What roles does sleep play in neurological and psychiatric diseases? The goal of our research is to understand the circuit, cellular, and molecular mechanisms underlying sleep regulation in both normal and diseased brains.
In the Peng lab, we apply a multidisciplinary approach including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics, pharmacology, viral-based neural tracing, molecular biology, and mouse genetics to study the neurobiology of sleep. Currently, we aim to: 1) dissect brain circuits that control sleep states; 2) identify genes and signaling molecules that initiate and maintain sleep; 3) examine how sleep loss affects brain functions and animal behaviors, such as sensory perception, learning, and memory. A complementary study is to use next-generation sequencing techniques to identify genetic variants associated with human sleep disorders, such as insomnia and hypersomnia.
Sleep problems are very common in patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders. In collaboration with other faculty members at Columbia University, we are interested in understanding the relationship between abnormal sleep and brain diseases. Specifically, we focus on epilepsy and mood disorders. We aim to identify common neuropathological mechanisms underlying abnormal sleep and brain diseases.
Neural circuits regulating sleep and wakefulness
Genetic and molecular regulation of sleep
Roles of sleep in sensory perception and cognitive behavior
Roles of sleep in neuropsychiatric disorders