Photo Biosystems Science Course
Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology II

NAME

Makoto Mizunami

¡ Research Title
Revealing adaptive design of insect "microbrain"
¡ Key Words
insects, microbrain, learning, memory, behavior, mushroom body, brain evolution, olfaction, vision, neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, brain imaging
¡ E-Mail
¡ Web Site
https://www.sci.hokudai.ac.jp/~mizunami/MICROB~2/



¡ Research Contents
  Revealing functional design of insect "microbrain"
The major goal of our laboratory is to reveal the functional design of insect brain, which we have termed gmicrobrain (1)h. To achieve this goal, we are studying molecular, cellular and neuron-network mechanisms of visual and olfactory learning in insects. One of our research focuses is the role of the mushroom body, an association center of the insect brain, in various forms of learning.

Analysis of changes in activity of brain neurons induced by learning
We have shown that cockroaches exhibit conditioning of salivation, as do dogs, and that the mushroom body plays an essential role in this learning. We are examining changes in activities of brain neurons associated with salivary conditioning.

Analysis of gcognitiveh processes underlying insect classical conditioning
We have studied the roles of the octopaminergic reward system and dopaminergic punishment system in olfactory and visual learning in crickets and have concluded that sophisticated information processing, often called gcognitiveh process, underlies learning in insects. We are examining neural mechanisms of such sophisticated information processing in order to obtain a better understanding of functional organization of the insect brain.

Analysis of odor representation in insect brain
We are studying how olfactory information is represented in the first olfactory center, the antennal lobe, in the cockroach brain. Our ultimate goal is to develop an gartificial nose systemh, based on neural algorithms for odor discrimination by insects.

Revealing signaling cascades underlying the formation of long-term memory
We have shown that the NO-cGMP signaling system plays an essential role in the formation of visual and olfactory long-term memory (LTM) in insects. The current purpose of our study is to reveal complete signaling cascades underlying LTM formation. We are using pharmacological and RNA interference techniques. We are also developing transgenic technology for the study of molecular mechanisms of LTM formation in crickets.

Elucidating brain mechanisms of pheromone communication by social insects
Social insects such as ants are equipped with sophisticated communication system by means of pheromones. We are studying how alarm pheromone information is processed in the ant brain.

(1) Mizunami M., Yokohari F., Takahata M. (1999) Exploration into the adaptive design of the arthropod gMicrobrainh. Zool. Sci. 16: 703-709.
¡ Message
The goal of our study to open a new field of evolutionary neurobiology. Students and young researchers interested in the brain, behavior and evolution are most welcome to our laboratory.

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