Features 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.
- 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.