The brain areas, such as the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia and cerebellum, play a major role in controlling voluntary movements. On the other hand, malfunctions of these structures result in movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. The major goal of our research project is to elucidate the mechanisms underlying higher motor functions and the pathophysiology of movement disorders. To explore such intricate brain functions, we apply a wide range of neurophysiological and neuroanatomical techniques to rodents and subhuman primates.
The current topics under study are as follows:
1） Elucidation of information flows through the neuronal networks by electrophysiological and anatomical methods.
2） Understanding the mechanism how the brain controls voluntary movements and higher brain functions by electrophysiological recordings of neuronal activity from animals performing motor tasks, combined with local injection of neuronal blockers,
optogenetics or chemogenetics.
3） Elucidation of the pathophysiology of movement disorders by applying
electrophysiological methods to animal models.
A sagittal section of the mouse brain showing selective expression of channelrhodopsin-2 (C128S) in striatal projection neurons as visualized by enhanced yellow fluorescent protein signals. Strong fluorescence was observed in the striatum (Str) as well as the its targets, such as the external (GPe) and internal (GPi) segments of the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr).
Functions of dopamine D1 receptors (D1R) reveled by conditional D1R knock-down mice. Under normal D1R expression (left), signals through the cortico-striato-GPi direct pathway induce inhibition in the GPi and release motor actions by disinhibiting the thalamus.
During D1R suppression (right), the information flow through the direct pathway is strongly suppressed and fails to induce inhibition in the GPi, resulting in the reduced motor activity. GPi, internal segment of the globus pallidus.
Introduce a researcher of NIPS.