Research in my lab



Understanding biological motor control and learning

To understand the mechanism of the robust adaptive motor control in biological systems, we employ electro-physiology and animal behavioral study in combination with engineering system identification techniques.  Our model systems are the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR), and the eye velocity to position neural integrator (VPNI) in monkey and goldfish. Some of the ongoing research themes are:

  1. -Changes in cerebellar Purkinje cell activities during frequency differential VOR motor learning

  2. -Context specific VPNI plasticity and vestibulo-cerebellar Purkinje cell activities

  3. -Construction and simulation of a realistic cerebellar neuronal network model consisting of conductance based spiking neuron models


Application of the neuroscience evidence to solve engineering problems

As applications of the knowledge obtained from our neuroscience studies, we are working on the following research themes:

  1. -Adaptive control of a motor, and a robot by the cerebellar neuronal network model

  2. -Adaptive control of a motor, and a robot by goldfish cerebellar neuronal activity (a BMI study)

Biomedical engineering

Prediction and detection of drowsiness by the pupil or/and eye movements

“Look into a person’s pupils he cannot hide himself” Confucius (BC552~479).  The pupil tells us a lot about brain activities, and so do reflexive eye movements such as VOR and saccades.  We evaluate them as possible predictors of drowsiness to prevent fatal car accidents caused by sleepy drivers.  Our recent findings are:

  1. -The pupil as a possible premonitor of drowsiness [PDF]

  2. -Detection and prediction of drowsiness by reflexive eye movements [PDF]

Evaluation of the autonomic nervous system activity by the pupil of the eye

The pupil is controlled by two types of smooth muscles, sphincter and dilator each of which is innervated by the parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves, respectively.  We have established a method to separately evaluate these nervous activities by observing changes in the pupil diameter [PDF].  Some of the applications of this method are:

  1. -Evaluation of sympathetic and parasympathetic activities under hyper- and hypo-gravity

  2. -Correlation between intra-cranial pressure and the pupillary light reflex


Contribution to neuroinformatics

You cannot take your experimental data, program codes and lab notes with you to heaven!  Thus we should archive them so that people following us can utilize them to progress their science.  Not only that, we can accelerate our own research (even before going to heaven) by sharing those useful information with researchers all over the world. I am currently involved in such a project called Neuroinformatics as a visiting scientist of RIKEN Brain Science Institute.  My assignments are:

  1. -The cerebellar platform

  2. -The simulation server

  3. -Whole brain simulation

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