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.

For a broader perspective of the lab, here are five books that Dr. Blumberg admires—and why—and a Q&A with him from 2019.


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!

Mark interviewed about sleep and dreams for The Atlantic and about "sleeping" jumping spiders for NPR's All Things Considered.

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!

Key Reviews

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


Videos of twitching across the animal kingdom