The brain recognizes, makes judgments on, and commands the behavior of an organism. The brain is an outstanding device for information processing, and is also considered to be the entity of the "mind". The understanding of higher brain function is the central theme of science in the 21st century. We consider that, in order to unveil the mechanisms that realize higher brain function, we need to understand the functional architecture of the brain. We therefore aim to understand the mechanisms of higher brain function on the systems level, from the aspects of how the brain is formed and how it works.
1) Understanding the structure of the brain: We investigate the structure of the brain, which realizes higher brain function, on a multiscale level, namely on the cellular, local circuit, and inter-regional circuit levels. We therefore develop and use novel research tools, such as visualization of neural circuits based on circuit-specific tracing using plasmid or virus vectors.
2) Understanding the dynamics of the brain: We investigate the neuronal representation of various information, information processing on the local circuit level, and the inter-regional synchronization of neuronal activity by recording and analyzing the functional dynamics of the brain, using multiple-unit recording, circuit-specific functional imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies. On the basis of these, we aim to understand the entity that realizes higher brain function on a systems level.
We carry out numbers of international collaborative research projects and hold seminars given by invited foreign speakers. Furthermore we promote talented individuals that can play active roles internationally through various activities such as supporting graduate student presentation of their research outcomes at international conferences.
Systems neuroscience of higher brain function (perceptual and cognitive
systems, reward and learning systems, executive systems)
- The development of novel methods using viral vectors in order to analyze the function and the organization of neural circuits.
- The structural analysis of the hippocampal neural networks using viral vectors.
Awards Granted to Graduate Students
||2002 Tohoku University Presidential Prize
||2010 Society of Life Science Chairman’s Award
||2011 Graduate School of Life Sciences Dean’s Award
A Student’s View
NameSho Sato D2
Undergraduate University and DepartmentGraduate of Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University
The research that is performed by our lab ranges from studies at the microscopic level such as recording the activity of individual neurons and the development of virus vectors, to the macroscopic level such as performing animal experiments to the investigation of the interactions and synchronicity of various brain regions. I think it is a suitable environment for students to develop our talents by interacting with teachers and students of various disciplines. We also often host various events such as seminars and socials with invited foreign researchers, and lab trips, in which we can enjoy ourselves.