Physiology and Neurobiology

Tadashi Isa M.D., Ph.D. Professor  btn

Our group double as the Evolutionary Systems Neuroscience Group of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (WPI-ASHBi). The group aims at elucidating the neural circuit mechanisms for control of dexterous motor actions and their recovery after the neural injuries and cognitive functions such as decision making and motivation, emotion, attention, associative learning and consciousness and their disorders. We are conducting the researches in various animal models for this goal, applying multidisciplinary methods, such as electrophysiology, psychophysics, neuroimaging, transgenic animals, viral vectors, and computational modeling.

Research and Education

Dynamic properties of neural networks, which span multiple brain areas, experience context-dependent modulation related to the vigilance, attention or learning stage etc. One of the most typical condition for such modulation to occur is functional recovery from the brain and/or spinal cord injury and neuropsychiatric disorders. We have been studying the neuronal mechanism of the post-lesion recovery and how the recovery is regulated by cognitive functions such as motivation. We believe that with this knowledge, we can develop effective therapeutic strategies to cure the neural injuries and disorders in future. For this purpose, we combine multidisciplinary methods, such as electrophysiology, psychophysics, neuroimaging, transgenic animals, viral vectors, and computational modeling, particularly in the macaque monkey model of brain and spinal cord injury and neural disorders.  Macaque monkeys are suitable for the purpose of our study, because they have similar neural systems and body plants to humans. In our laboratory, the PhD students are trained to acquire the disciplines and techniques as neurophysiologists and skills to communicate with scientists from other disciplines at a global scale.

During the recovery from spinal cord injury, the nucleus accumbens (NAc) facilitates the activity of motor cortex (M1) and contribute to recovery of dexterous hand movements (Sawada et al. Science,2019)

Even if the primary visual cortex (V1) is damaged, some patients can still perform actions or retain the cognitive functions such as memory, learning, attention triggered by the objects presented in the affected visual field despite loss of visual awareness. This phenomenon is called “blindsight”. The visual pathway from the superior colliculus to pulvinar can mediate the blindsight. (Kinoshita et al. Nat Comm 2019)


Recent Publications

  1. Kinoshita M, Kato R, Isa K, Kobayashi K, Kobayashi K, Onoe H, Isa T (2019) Dissecting the circuit for blindsight to reveal the critical role of pulvinar and superior colliculus. Nature Communications, 10: 135.
  2. Isa T (2019) Dexterous hand movements and their recovery after central nervous system injury. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 42:315-335.
  3. Sawada M, Kato K, Kunieda T, Mikuni N, Miyamoto S, Onoe H, Isa T, Nishimura Y (2015) Function of nucleus accumbens in motor control during recovery after spinal cord injury. Science, 350: 98-101
  4. Kinoshita M, Matsui R, Kato S, Hasegawa T, Kasahara H, Isa K, Watakabe A, Yamamori T, Nishimura Y, Alstermark B., Watanabe D, Kobayashi K, Isa T (2012) Genetic dissection of the circuit for hand dexterity in primates. Nature, 487: 235-238.
  5. Nishimura Y, Onoe T, Morichika Y, Perfiliev S, Tsukada H, Isa T (2007) Time-dependent central compensatory mechanism of finger dexterity after spinal-cord injury. Science, 318: 1150-1155.

Physiology and Neurobiology

Professor: Tadashi Isa, M.D. & Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4351, E-mail; isa.tadashi.7u(at)
Project professor (Human Brain Research Center): Hirotaka Onoe, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; onoe.hirotaka.8n(at)
Project associate professor (Hakubi Project): Tomohiko Takei, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; takei.tomohiko.8w(at)
Junior associate professor: Takayasu Higo, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; higo.takayasu.8s(at)
Assistant professor: Masatoshi Kasai, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; kasai.masatoshi.2s(at)
Assistant professor: Ryo Sasaki, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; sasaki.ryo.3r(at)
Assistant professor(Medical Education center): Richard Veale, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4353, E-mail; veale.richard.7c(at)
Project assistant professor (ASHBi): Reona Yamaguchi, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4690, E-mail; yamaguchi.reona.3e(at)
Project assistant professor (ASHBi): Chih-Yang Chen, Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4690, E-mail; chen.chihyang.3a(at)