Faculty Profile

Chun Yang, PhD

Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

See publications

Inter-office Mail Address

1400 VFW Parkway, Building 3, Room 2A115, HMS/VABHS

Phone 774-826-1892

Email Chun_Yang@hms.harvard.edu

Society Memberships

Sleep Research Society,
Society for Neuroscience

Research Unit(s)

Laboratory of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, HMS

Research Interests

We are interested in neuronal membrane properties, neurotransmitter modulation & neuronal circuits of brain regions involved in sleep-wake regulation. To date, our research has been principally focused on the basal forebrain (BF), which plays a critical role in activating the cortex during wakefulness and rapid eye movement sleep. There are three major types of neurons in BF based on their neurotransmitter phenotypes, cholinergic, GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons, all of which contain cortically-projecting subtypes. With state-of-the-art techniques (patch clamp, optogenetic animal models etc.), we characterize the anatomical & electrophysiological properties of different types of BF neurons, and elucidate the cellular & molecular mechanisms involved in neuronal interactions & modulations. Our findings highlight the significance of BF GABAergic & glutamatergic neurons in sleep-wake regulation and cortical activation, and challenge the prevailing dictum that BF cholinergic projections to cortex directly control wakefulness.


Research Funding

NIH/NIMH, PI: Chun Yang, PhD.
Title: “Basal forebrain purinergic P2 receptor mechanism of sleep-wake regulation”

Selected Publications

Selected original articles

Zant JC, Kim T, Prokai L, Szarka S, McNally J, McKenna JT, Shukla C, Yang C, Kalinchuk AV, McCarley RW, Brown RE, Basheer R. Cholinergic Neurons in the Basal Forebrain Promote Wakefulness by Actions on Neighboring Non-Cholinergic Neurons: An Opto-Dialysis Study. J Neurosci. 2016 Feb 10;36(6):2057-67. [PMID: 26865627]

Kim T, Thankachan S, McKenna JT, McNally JM, Yang C, Choi JH, Chen L, Kocsis B, Deisseroth K, Strecker RE, Basheer R, Brown RE, McCarley RW. Cortically projecting basal forebrain parvalbumin neurons regulate cortical gamma band oscillations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 17;112(11):3535-40. [PMID: 25733878]

Yang C, McKenna JT, Zant JC, Winston S, Basheer R, Brown RE. Cholinergic neurons excite cortically projecting basal forebrain GABAergic neurons. J Neurosci. 2014 Feb 19;34(8):2832-44. [PMID: 24553925]

Yang C, Brown RE. The cholinergic agonist carbachol increases the frequency of spontaneous GABAergic synaptic currents in dorsal raphe serotonergic neurons in the mouse. Neuroscience. 2014 Jan 31;258:62-73. [PMID: 24231737]

Yang C, Franciosi S, Brown RE. Adenosine inhibits the excitatory synaptic inputs to Basal forebrain cholinergic, GABAergic, and parvalbumin neurons in mice. Front Neurol. 2013 Jun 20;4:77. [PMID: 23801984]

McKenna JT, Yang C, Franciosi S, Winston S, Abarr KK, Rigby MS, Yanagawa Y, McCarley RW, Brown RE. Distribution and intrinsic membrane properties of basal forebrain GABAergic and parvalbumin neurons in the mouse. J Comp Neurol. 2013 Apr 15;521(6):1225-50. [PMID: 23254904]

Yang C, Delay RJ. Calcium-activated chloride current amplifies the response to urine in mouse vomeronasal sensory neurons. J Gen Physiol. 2010 Jan;135(1):3-13. [PMID: 20038523]

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