Physiology and NeurobiologyMedicine and Medical Science

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

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.

Lab Website

Research and Education

The brain regulates the sensory, motor and cognitive functions by multi-hierarchical network of neural cells. To understand the brain functions, it is necessary to decipher the functions of individual neurons and synapses, local circuits, their large-scaled networks, behaviors, their underlying algorithm of the network operation and their relationships. For this purpose, we combine multidisciplinary methods, such as electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, 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. Sasaki R, Ohta Y, Onoe H, Yamaguchi R, Miyamoto T, Tokuda T. Tamaki Y, Isa K, Takahashi J, Kobayashi K, Ohta J, Isa T (2024) Balancing risk-return decisions by manipulating the mesofrontal circuits in primates. Science, 383:55-61.
  2. Vancraeyenest P, Arsenault JT, Li X, Zhu Q, Kobayashi K, Isa K, Isa T, Vanduffel W (2020) Selective mesoaccumbal pathway inactivation affects motivation but not reinforcement-based learning in macaques. Neuron, 108:568-581.
  3. 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 the pulvinar and superior colliculus. Nature Communications, 10(1):135.
  4. 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.
  5. Isa T (2019) Dexterous hand movements and their recovery after central nervous system injury. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 42:315-335.


Professor: Tadashi Isa, M.D. & Ph.D.
(Phone; 075-753-4351, E-mail; isa.tadashi.7u(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(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)


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