There is increasing attention to social neuroscience, a discipline dedicated to clarifying the neural basis of social cognitive functions. In social neuroscience, studies on human subjects are surely indispensable, as they can tell us about our social mind most directly. Yet research using nonhuman primates is of equal importance for understanding social brain functions at the cellular and network levels. Nonhuman primates are phylogenetically close to humans, they have brain structure similar to humans, and they offer unique opportunities to directly record or manipulate neural activity. Our laboratory develops novel, behavioral tasks using two monkeys facing each other and carries out electrophysiological recordings of single-neuron activities and local field potentials across networks of brain regions to achieve a system-level understanding of social cognition, such as decision making on the basis of behavioral information regarding the self and others. We also perform pathway-selective blockade of neural activity using viral vectors to establish a causal relationship between a target neural pathway and a particular social cognitive function. Furthermore, we perform cognitive genomics studies in macaques with loss-of-function mutations in genes associated with human psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, thereby clarifying the genetic basis of social cognitive functions.
Multi-site, multi-electrode neural recordings for clarifying the neural basis of social cognitive functions
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