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.

Research focuses

  • Sleep-wake circuit mapping
  • Neural circuits dynamics of innate behaviours
  • Sleep functions
  • Learning and memory consolidation during sleep


  • Genetic mouse engineering
  • In vitro and in vivo electrophysiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Polysomnographic recordings and vigilance states analysis
  • Behavioural testing

Sources of funding

  • Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)
  • European Research Council
  • Inselspital Bern
  • Universität Bern

Group members

Research Associates & Postdocs

  • Dr. Mattia Aime
  • Dr. Niccolo Calcini
  • Dr. Tiago Sa Campelo

PhD Students

  • Ivan Bozic
  • Ida Boccalaro
  • Yudong Yan
  • Micaela Borsa

Technicians, IT & Administration

  • Claudia Wille, Administration
  • Thomas Rusterholz, IT
  • Angelina Oestmann, central Lab veterinarian
  • Regina Reissmann, Lab Tech

Visiting Scientists

  • Dr. Patrice Fort (Université Claud Bernard Lyon 1, FR)
  • Dr. Christelle Peyron (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, FR)
  • Dr. Jozelia Gomes (ICB/USP, Brazil)
  • Dr. Lionel Dahan (Université Toulouse, FR)