Yang Dan is a Professor of Neurobiology. Her research lab aims to elucidate (1) what circuits in the mammalian brain control sleep, and (2) mechanisms by which the frontal cortex exerts top-down executive control. They use a variety of techniques, including optogenetics, electrophysiology, imaging, and virus-mediated circuit tracing.
Neural circuits controlling sleep. Using optogenetic manipulation, optrode recording, and cell-type-specific calcium imaging, they identify neuronal types that play critical roles in the generation of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Local synaptic interactions between cell types are measured by recordings in brain slices, and long-range connections are mapped using a variety of viral tools.
Function of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Combining electrophysiological recording, calcium imaging, and optogenetic manipulation in mice performing PFC-dependent tasks, they aim to understand how the PFC generate task-related activity, and how the activity regulates the downstream targets for optimal behavioral control.