Every animal must develop functional brain-behavior relations within the context of an ever-changing body. Typically, investigations of behavioral development focus on what happens during wake. Instead, we begin by noting that sleep is not an absence of behavior and that it predominates in early development. Thus, our research focuses on the development, neurobiological mechanisms, and functions of sleep. Also, we embrace a developmental systems perspective that prioritizes the processes that shape developing animals. Methodologically, we use behavioral, neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, and optogenetic approaches to help us understand why animals sleep so much more when they are young and what can go wrong when they don't. Currently, our research is conducted using young rodents and preterm and full-term human infants. To gain a full appreciation for the questions we ask and the approaches we take, you may wish to read a review below or an empirical article, or watch a research-related video.
Mark is interviewed about animal instinct on an episode ("Basic Instinct") of the Unexplainable podcast on Vox.
Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Glanz, our latest newly minted PhD!
Jimmy Dooley, former postdoc, is a new assistant professor at Purdue University. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Alex Tiriac (PhD 2016) as he starts his new faculty position at Vanderbilt University!
Congratulations to Lex Gómez (PhD 2022) who has moved on to a postdoctoral position at Johns Hopkins University!
Protracted development of motor cortex constrains rich interpretations of infant cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2023. pdf
Sleep, plasticity, and sensory neurodevelopment. Neuron, 2022. pdf
What is REM sleep? Current Biology, 2020. pdf
The developing brain revealed during sleep. Current Opinion in Physiology, 2020. pdf
Active sleep promotes functional connectivity in developing sensorimotor networks. BioEssays, 2018. pdf
Decomposing the evolution of sleep: Comparative and developmental approaches. In The Evolution of Nervous Systems, 2017. pdf
Development evolving: The origins and meanings of instinct. WIREs Cognitive Science, 2016. pdf
Twitching in sensorimotor development from sleeping rats to robots. Current Biology, 2013. pdf