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Yang Dan’s research is focused on two areas: the neural circuits that control sleep and the mechanisms by which the brain’s frontal cortex exerts top-down executive control. Dan and her team identify neuronal cell types that play critical roles in the generation of rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-REM sleep, and then measure local synaptic interactions and map long-range connections, working in brain tissue samples. They investigate prefrontal cortex function (PFC) by studying behaving mice performing PFC-dependent tasks. The team uses a variety of techniques in their studies, including optogenetics, electrophysiology, imaging, and virus-mediated circuit tracing.