Faculty Profile

Chun Yang, PhD

Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

See publications

Inter-office Mail Address

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

Phone 757-203-4366

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

Yang C, McKenna JT, Brown RE. (2017) Intrinsic membrane properties and cholinergic modulation of mouse basal forebrain glutamatergic neurons in vitro. Neuroscience.352:249-261. [PMID: 28411158]

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

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

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. (2015) Cortically projecting basal forebrain parvalbumin neurons regulate cortical gamma oscillations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA). 2015; 112(11):3535-40. [PMID: 25733878]

Yang C, McKenna JT, Zant JC, Winston S, Basheer R, Brown RE. (2014) Cholinergic neurons excite cortically projecting basal forebrain GABAergic neurons. J Neurosci. 34(8):2832-44. [PMID: 24553925]
Yang C, Franciosi S, Brown RE. (2013) Adenosine inhibits the excitatory synaptic inputs to Basal forebrain cholinergic, GABAergic, and parvalbumin neurons in mice. Front Neurol. 4:77. [PMID: 23801984]

McKenna JT, Yang C, Franciosi S, Winston S, Abarr KK, Rigby MS, Yanagawa Y, McCarley RW, Brown RE. (2013) Distribution and Intrinsic Membrane Properties of Basal Forebrain GABAergic and Parvalbumin Neurons in the Mouse. J Comp Neurol. 521(6):1225-50. [PMID: 23254904]

Yang C, Delay R. (2010) Calcium-Activated Chloride Current Amplifies the Response to Urine in Mouse Vomeronasal Sensory Neurons. J Gen Physiol. 135(1):3-13. [PMID: 20038523]

Yang C, Thankachan S, McCarley RW, Brown RE. (2017) The menagerie of the basal forebrain: how many (neural) species are there, what do they look like, how do they behave and who talks to whom? Curr Opin Neurobiol. 44:159-166. [PMID: 28538168]


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