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Division of System Neurophysiology

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Mechanism of voluntary movements
Pathophysiology of movement disorders

The brain areas, such as the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia and cerebellum, play an essential 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 such as macaques and marmosets.
 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 in 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 of Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. Development of new therapies by suppressing abnormal neuronal activity.

2021numboFig_1_210326_151806.png

Frontal sections of the monkey brain showing expression of channelrhodopsin-2( ChR2) in the primary motor cortex (M1). Light irradiation can successfully induce muscle activity and movements in the upper limb as well as neuronal activity in the M1.

2021numbuFig_2_210326_151856.jpg

Cortical stimulation in the mice model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and L-DOPA-induced
dyskinesia (LID) evoked specific response patterns in the external segment of the globus pallidus (GPe) and substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr), which may explain pathophysiology of these conditions.

Selected publications

*M. Ozaki et al., Cereb Cortex 27: 5716-5726 (2017)
*H. Watanabe et al., Nature Commun 11: 3253 (2020)
*Z. Polyakova et al., J Neurosci 40: 7451-7463 (2020)
*W. Wongmassang et al., Eur J Neurosci,53: 2178-2191 (2021)
*I. Dwi Wahyu et al., J Neurosci 41: 2668-2683 (2021)