Our brain not only rationally thinks or memorizes events and facts but also produces and percepts “emotions” such as joy, grief, angry or fear.
Emotions have a strong influence on our behaviors. Experiences accompanied with some emotional situations are often memorized in our brain as a long-lasting striking memory.
For example, young children cannot understand the meaning of “red” or “blue” traffic signals. However, they memorize the meaning of “red” or “blue” signals by their own experience of being almost run over by a car or being scold by their parents, and finally they can take a correct behavior by stopping or crossing at the signals. Thus, in our daily life, we are continuously selecting an optimal behavior in the situation at which we are facing depending on information of our experiences in the past.
We are interested in revealing the basic role of emotions in such selection of behaviors in animals including humans. Our research is focused on three themes:
1. Investigating the role of the evolutionary conserved limbic circuit within vertebrates.
2. Exploring the role of habenula in emotional behaviors.
3. Studying the mechanism of the sensory neuron development and adult neurogenesis.