Animals take in sensory information from the outside world, process this information within the brain and finally generate coordinated behavior in response to the sensory stimuli. This whole process is mediated by the activity of neurons that are interconnected within the brain. Our lab is interested in the neural circuit mechanisms by which animals produce goal-directed behavior.

To understand the underlying mechanisms, our lab uses the visual system of larval zebrafish as a model. Zebrafish’s small, optically transparent brain allows measurement and/or manipulation of the neural activity in live animals. Furthermore, it is possible to label a particular group of neurons reliably using the well-established genetic tools. Our research takes full advantage of the unique properties of larval zebrafish model to dissect the roles of neural circuits in producing behavior at cellular and circuit levels.

Taking these approaches, our previous work has focused on the role of a visual brain area, pretectum, in detecting visual motion, i.e. how motion signals obtained from the left and right eyes are integrated together (Kubo et al., 2014, Kramer et al., 2019). We have also developed a panel of transgenic lines, including those that specifically label particular neurotransmitter subtypes (Forster et al., 2017). We plan to apply these techniques to understand more complex types of behavior.

Our funding:
– Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI), Fund for the Promotion of Joint International Research (Home-Returning Researcher Development Research) (2018-2020)
– Tomizawa Jun-ichi & Keiko Fund of Molecular Biology Society of Japan for Young Scientist (2018)
– The Naito Foundation (2019-2021)