The investigative focus of our laboratory is the cellular and synaptic basis by which the brain regulates sleep and wakeful consciousness. Our experiments seek to link the activity of defined sets of neurons with neurobehavioral and electroencephalographic outcomes in behaving animals by using innovative genetically or chemically engineered systems (optogenetics, chemogenetics or optopharmacology) in conjunction with recording of the electrical activity produced by the brain or in-vivo imaging (­fiber-optic endomicroscopy). For example, we investigate the control of sleep and wakefulness by the mesolimbic pathway comprising the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens. As the mesolimbic pathway is implicated in motivational and cognitive behaviors, changes in vigilant states are likely associated with the motivational and cognitive responses in animals. Moreover, we are interested in the link between sleep loss and the desire to consume unhealthy foods, i.e. junk foods. We recently found that the loss of REM sleep leads to increased consumption of sucrose and fat and that inhibiting neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex reverses the effect of REM sleep loss on sucrose consumption.



Why coffee
wakes us up?

Why do we fall asleep when bored?


The link between REM sleep and the desire for junk food

Novel insomnia treatment