Trainee Profile

Robin K. Yuan, PhD

Research Fellow in Medicine, Harvard Medical School

See publications


221 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115


Society Memberships

Sleep Research Society

Research Interests

My research interests include memory and performance effects of sleep and circadian disruption, particularly in regard to how these effects manifest in a healthy, aged population.

During my PhD, I used in vivo electrophysiological recordings in mice to characterize how emotion or sleep deprivation influenced cellular representations in the hippocampus. I found that hippocampal place cells responded preferentially at different stages of fear conditioning and extinction, indicating that different cells may encode past and present emotional valences associated with the context. I then leveraged the same technique to investigate changes in hippocampal cellular activity after sleep deprivation in aged and young adult mice. Surprisingly, aged mice that underwent acute sleep deprivation displayed a pattern of cellular activity strongly resembling that seen in rested young mice. Moreover, this pattern of activity correlated with improved performance on a spatial memory task, suggesting that in some circumstances, brief sleep deprivation may temporarily rescue certain age-related learning deficits.

I am now focusing on the effects of chronic sleep restriction or circadian disruption on cognitive performance and memory in healthy older humans. My long term research goals are to continue investigating how normal age-related changes in cognition interact with sleep and circadian rhythms.


Selected Publications

Yuan RK, Hebert JC, Thomas AS, Wann EG, Muzzio IA. HDAC I inhibition in the
dorsal and ventral hippocampus differentially modulates predator-odor fear
learning and generalization. Front Neurosci. 2015 Sep 22;9:319. doi:
10.3389/fnins.2015.00319. eCollection 2015. PMID: 26441495; PMCID: PMC4585269.

Wang ME, Yuan RK, Keinath AT, Ramos Álvarez MM, Muzzio IA. Extinction of
Learned Fear Induces Hippocampal Place Cell Remapping. J Neurosci. 2015 Jun
17;35(24):9122-36. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4477-14.2015. PMID: 26085635; PMCID: PMC4469738.

Keinath AT, Wang ME, Wann EG, Yuan RK, Dudman JT, Muzzio IA. Precise spatial
coding is preserved along the longitudinal hippocampal axis. Hippocampus. 2014
Dec;24(12):1533-48. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22333. Epub 2014 Aug 1. PMID: 25045084; PMCID: PMC4447627.

Wang ME, Fraize NP, Yin L, Yuan RK, Petsagourakis D, Wann EG, Muzzio IA.
Differential roles of the dorsal and ventral hippocampus in predator odor
contextual fear conditioning. Hippocampus. 2013 Jun;23(6):451-66. doi:
10.1002/hipo.22105. Epub 2013 Mar 5. PMID: 23460388.

Wang ME, Wann EG, Yuan RK, Ramos Álvarez MM, Stead SM, Muzzio IA. Long-term
stabilization of place cell remapping produced by a fearful experience. J
Neurosci. 2012 Nov 7;32(45):15802-14. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0480-12.2012. PMID: 23136419;  PMCID: PMC3547638.

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