- Brain Awareness Week
Research Focus: Development, neurobiology, and functions of sleep; contributions of sleep-related movements to sensorimotor development; neurodevelopmental disorders; development and evolution of behavior
One of the goals of our research is to identify the role that sleep plays in the development of the nervous system
Every developing animal must learn to function within the context of an ever-changing body. Typically, investigations of sensorimotor development focus on waking movements. We consider another class of behavior: Twitching movements that occur exclusively during active (or REM) sleep. Twitches are particularly abundant in early infancy when critical sensorimotor networks and topographic maps are established. Based on behavioral, electrophysiological, neurophysiological, and computational investigations of this unique behavior, we argue that twitches are critical for the development and maintenance of the sensorimotor system, as well as its repair after injury or disease.