Yang Dan: How our brains regulate sleep

Professor Yang Dan
Photo courtesy of HHMI, credit Noah Berger

We spend about one-third of our lives asleep, but much is still unknown about how this nightly occurrence is regulated by the brain. However, two new research papers from the lab of MCB Professor & HHMI Investigator Yang Dan seek to shed light on the systems and regions of the brain involved in sleep regulation.

In Cell, Zhang et al. identified both known and new areas throughout the brain with higher activity in sleeping mice compared to awake mice. These newly identified brain regions could be useful in the development of new methods to promote healthy sleep.

In Neuron, Ma et al. "screened for additional sleep-promoting areas using a different approach — working backwards from neurons known to promote wakefulness (wake neurons) to see which neurons connect to and inhibit them, causing sleep."

Read more from Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute here.