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Junya HIROKAWA

Junya HIROKAWA
Associate Professor, Organization for Research Initiatives and Development

Research TopicMechanisms of Decision Making, Optogenetics, Neurophysiology, Behavioral Neuroscience
Researcher DBhttps://kendb.doshisha.ac.jp/profile/en.52ef24c84da30163.html
researchmaphttps://researchmap.jp/ratcortex/?lang=english
researchmap130

Research Activities in the Space-DREAM Project

How does the brain adapt to an uncertain environment?
The Prefrontal cortex plays an essential role in adapting to an uncertain environment by integrating various information such as past behavioral outcomes and other environmental cues and predicting more precise future behavioral outcomes. Under zero-gravity conditions in the space environment, our behavior results in very different outcomes from those on earth. Thus, our learning system must be changed dramatically. However, it is not clear what neural circuit mediates such adaptation. We use rats as a model animal and analyze neural activity at the circuit level while rats are conducting behavioral tasks. We revealed that neurons in rats' prefrontal cortex represent various decision variables, including past behavioral outcomes, reward size, confidence, and integrated values, and a link between one of these representations and a neural circuit component. We want to reveal the connections between cognitive functions and neural circuit components and eventually establish the principle underlying updating of predictions through these studies. We believe these studies are also useful to develop a new method for cognitive training and rehabilitation that enables one to adapt to uncertain situations, including space travel.