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Systems Neuroscience

Laboratory of Neural Information

Yoshio Sakurai,Ph.D.
Yoshio Sakurai, Ph.D.
It is often said that the ultimate goal of brain science is to scientifically clarify mechanisms of mind. But what should we target in the brain and how should we investigate it ? The present lab postulates that mind is nothing but information being encoded and processed in the working brain. We, the members of the lab, investigate animal’s brains when they are encoding and processing specific information during performance of specific behavioral tasks. We would like to know what neurons and circuits work in what manners and in which structures by experimental studies combining behavioral experiments (operant conditioning), electrophysiology (multi-neuronal recording), histochemistry (immunostaining), and/or transgenic animal (optogenetics).
The main targets are higher functions, e.g., recognition of external stimuli, formation of various memory, context judgment, and reward anticipation. The focused structures are hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, association cortex, motor cortex, sensory cortex, and others. We record and analyze multi-neuronal activities from rats and mice when they are learning various memory tasks. We also train the animals to increase or decrease their multi-neuronal activities. The former study will clarify actual features and plasticity of functionally connected neuronal populations, i.e., cell assemblies, encoding various information in the brain. The latter will show the possibility of operation of cell assemblies and can be a basic study for brain-machine interfaces. In another research project, we employ the olfactory structure as a model system to investigate neural mechanisms realizing experience and internal-state dependent information processing of external stimuli. The method for the project is a combination of behavioral analysis, electrophysiology, optogenetics and molecular biology. We also would like to know how information in the frontal-subcortical system realize adaptive behaviors. We expect that the electrophysiology can detect specific neuronal activities for the adaptive behaviors and the optogenetics can prove causality between the neurons firing and the behaviors.

Research topics

  1. Dynamics of cell assemblies underlying coding and modification of various information
  2. Neuronal mechanisms in olfactory memory formation and odor-evoked motivational behaviors
  3. Roles and mechanisms of the frontal-subcortical circuits in adaptive behaviors

Selected publications

  1. Sakurai, Y. (2014) Brain-machine interfaces can accelerate clarification of the principal mysteries and real plasticity of the brain. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8:104, 1-6.
  2. Yamaguchi, K. and Sakurai, Y. (2014) Novel behavioral tasks to explore cerebellar temporal processing in milliseconds in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 263, 138-143.
  3. Zariwala, H.A.A., Kepecs, A., Uchida, N., Hirokawa, J. and Mainen, Z.F.F. (2013) The limits of deliberation in a perceptual decision task. Neuron, 78, 339-51.
  4. Manabe, H. and Mori, K. (2013) Sniff rhythm-paced fast and slow gamma oscillations in the olfactory bulb: relation to tufted and mitral cells and behavioral states. Journal of Neurophysiology, 110, 1593-1599.
  5. Terada, S., Takahashi, S. and Sakurai, Y. (2013) Oscillatory interaction between amygdala and hippocampus coordinates behavioral modulation based on reward expectation. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7:177, 1-12.
  6. Sakurai, Y. and Takahashi, S. (2013) Conditioned enhancement of firing rates and synchrony of hippocampal neurons and firing rates of motor cortical neurons in rats. European Journal of Neuroscience, 37, 623-639.
  7. Manabe, H., Kusumoto-Yoshida, I., Ota, M. and Mori, K. (2011) Olfactory cortex generates synchronized top-down inputs to the olfactory bulb during slow-wave sleep. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 8123-8133.
  8. Hirokawa, J., Sadakane, O., Sakata, S., Bosch, M., Sakurai, Y. and Yamamori, T. (2011) Multisensory information facilitates reaction speed by enlarging activity difference between superior colliculus hemispheres in rats. PLoS ONE, 6:9, 1-13.
  9. Sakurai, Y. and Takahashi, S. (2008) Dynamic synchrony of local cell assembly. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 19, 425-440.
  10. Sakurai, Y., and Takahashi, S.(2006)Dynamic synchrony of firing in the monkey prefrontal cortex during working memory tasks. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 10141-10153.


Yoshio Sakurai, Ph.D. (Principal investigator, Professor)
Hiroyuki Manabe, Ph.D. (Research associate professor)
Junya Hirokawa, Ph.D. (Research associate professor)


1-3 Tatara Miyakodani, Kyotanabe-shi, Kyoto 610-0394 Japan
E-mail : ysakurai@mail.doshisha.ac.jp