Welcome to Isomura lab!
Our laboratory explores the mechanisms of information processing in the neural circuits of the brain, which is responsible for everything from perceptual cognition to behavioral expression in animals, using unique electrophysiological and optogenetic methods.
Here you will find a research environment where you can enjoy a friendly atmosphere, value curiosity and ideas, and pursue high-quality studies.
For example, what exactly happens in the brain when we find an object and reach out to grasp it? In fact, even in the primary motor cortex of the cerebral cortex, which is believed to be responsible for the development of voluntary movements, what kind of neurons exchange what kind of signals and how they form "motor commands" is still not fully understood. Moreover, the mechanisms of the higher motor cortex and association cortex remain a great mystery.
By the way, most mammals (dogs, cats, cows, horses, pigs, whales, etc.) except primates are very poor at reaching out and grasping objects. Rodents, however, are able to grasp food by moving their long-fingered hands (forelimbs) with surprising dexterity. In other words, even the simple brains of rodents must have the basic circuitry to express such dexterous forelimb movements. Therefore, we began our research by clarifying the mechanisms of the neural circuits in the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia that control forelimb movements in rats.
Specifically, we first use a behavioral experimental apparatus that we originally developed to efficiently train rats to perform operant learning of a behavioral task in which they are rewarded for appropriately manipulating a lever with their forelimbs in response to light or sound cues. Next, we measure and manipulate the firing activity of neurons in the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis using a combination of multi-neuron recording and optogenetics techniques while the rats are expressing forelimb movements. Furthermore, by adding theoretical analysis to the experimental data obtained, we will carefully investigate the process by which neural circuits in the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia achieve perceptual cognition and behavioral expression from various perspectives. ...And one day, we hope to elucidate the "basic principles" for the operation of neural circuits in the brain.