Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Unit for Experimental Psychiatry Division of Sleep and Chronobiology

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Welcome to the UEP

The Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology is a multi-disciplinary group of investigators focused on establishing the nature of and dynamic changes in human physiological and neurobehavioral responses produced by sleep loss and circadian rhythmicity. Experiments utilizing healthy adult volunteers are conducted in a specially equipped, environmentally isolated Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory and in the NIH Clinical and Translational Research Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania  (HUP). Basic human translational research within the laboratory characterizes the relationship between the biological basis of sleep need and circadian physiology and their control of waking neurobehavioral functions and health, as reflected in mood, physiological alertness, a range of cognitive functions, quantitative EEG/EOG, endocrine, immune, and inflammatory responses. To this end, we are particularly interested in using a variety of techniques (e.g., genetics, brain imaging, psychopharmacology) to identify biomarkers for differential vulnerability to sleep loss and identify differences under basal conditions.

The laboratory also evaluates neurobehavioral functioning in response to stress and collaborates in studies of pathologies of sleep and wakefulness (e.g. circadian sleep disorders, hypersomnolence syndromes, insomnias, and insufficient sleep syndromes). In addition to basic human laboratory research, the Unit conducts and collaborates in the following areas: (1) population science on sleep-wake behaviors; (2) development of biomathematical and computational models of sleep and circadian effects on behavior; (3) studies of sleep and performance in simulators and analog environments (e.g., NEEMO, MARS 105, MARS 500); (4) studies sleep and performance in operational environments (e.g., truckers, commercial flight crews, astronauts on the International Space Station); (5) neurobehavioral technology development for use in clinical trials and field studies of occupational fatigue; and (6) studies on the effects of traffic noise on sleep and recuperation.

The laboratory’s overarching goal is to discover new ways to effectively detect, prevent and treat neurobehavioral and physiological impairments from sleep loss and related stressors, and their adverse effects on health, behavior, and safety, using novel behavioral, pharmacological, and technological countermeasures. The laboratory makes its findings known through scientific publications, and it participates in public policy areas involving human health and safety relative to lifestyle factors that impact sleep need. The Unit’s research is currently funded by grants from NIH, NASA, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics’ (ITMAT) Transdisciplinary Program in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the European Union.