There are three main lines of research in the lab.
We use the fly as our model organism because their sleep is essentially like our own, and because they have less complicated brains. Some of the questions we are asking include:
How are the transitions between sleep and wake controlled on a molecular and circuit level?
How is sensory information gated to prevent below-threshold stimuli from arousing the brain to full awareness during sleep?
What is the biological basis for sleep need?
How does sleep deprivation affect pain perception (with the broader goal of understanding how internal states affect sensory perception)?
2. Circadian clock
The molecular basis of the clock was first described in the fly, and its logic is the same across most animals. We are asking:
How does the clock conceptualize sensory information to produce different behavioral responses at different times of day?
How is the oscillator functionally subdivided?
We are asking how animals decide for or against performing a behavior. For this, we have an ongoing collaboration with the Crickmore lab. We found that male flies calibrate their sexual behavior to their internal states and are studying the neuronal computations that allow this flexibility.