Experimental Neurology Center (ZEN)

Sleep is a primary an essential biological need for higher vertebrates and «sleep-like» states have been demonstrated in lower vertebrates. Although the function of sleep is still a mystery, it may include memory consolidation, energy replenishment and brain plasticity. The neural underpinnings of sleep-wake states involve interactions between sleep-promoting areas such as the anterior hypothalamus, and wake-promoting areas located in the posterior hypothalamus, the basal forebrain and the brainstem. Multiple sleep stages, including slow wave sleep (non rapid eye movement or NREM) and paradoxal sleep (rapid eye movement or REM), have been identified in mammals. The occurrence and maintenance of those sleep stages depend on a complex interaction between highly specialized neural circuits that remain to be elucidated. Research projects in the lab aim at understanding, dissecting and probing the dynamics of neural circuits that control the sleep-wake cycle in the mammalian brain.