Elucidation of Mechanisms Underlying Brain Development and Learning

Research Supervisor

Tadaharu Tsumoto (Unit Leader, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN)

Year Started



This field of research strives to elucidate healthy and vitality-filled brain development and growth, and the mechanisms by which these are supported from a new perspective that fuses the ideas of brain nurturing and the promotion of life-long human learning with relevant social aspects. In response to the old question of how the complex brain is formed from a single fertilized egg, and how it comes to exhibit its high-level functions, recent brain research has considerably elucidated the initial genetic information mechanisms, and, in addition, how environmental input and activity of the brain itself causes the neural networks formed by these mechanisms to undergo subtle transformation. It also suggests that this activity-dependent transformation mechanism and the learning mechanism share commonality. While this type of knowledge has been primarily obtained from experimental animals, recently, the development of noninvasive measurement techniques for human cerebral function has allowed research into human brain function development and input-dependent transformation and has improved prospects that human development and learning mechanisms may be further elucidated. From a starting point that recognizes this current situation, this field of research explains the development mechanisms of high-level brain function (such as characteristic human language development) that plays a part in human learning (including sensory, motive, recognition, and behavioral systems), and, in addition, seeks to elucidate the function recovery mechanisms from mind and nerve damage. We are also using animal experiments to advance research into the plasticity of neural networks in the developing brain that forms the basis for such mechanisms, and are investigating the applicability of this knowledge to human beings. In addition to specific techniques, we are combining varieties of techniques in pluralistic fashion and promoting research from a systems perspective. By promoting creative and leading-edge research into brain function development and learning mechanisms, we are striving to offer solutions to the variety issues associated with education and life-long learning, and to return the fruits of this research to society.

Strategic Sector

Elucidation of a Human Life-Long Learning Mechanism Based on the Knowledge of Brain Science with an Intention to Provide a Solution to the Problems in Education

Year Started: 2005

Shigeru Kitazawa
Professor, Juntendo University School of Medicine
Investigation of the Neural Mechanisms that Facilitate Development using Applied Behavior Analysis

Kazuto Kobayashi
Professor, Fukushima Medical University
Mechanisms Underlying Dopamine dependent Control of Development and Execution of Behaviors

Ichiro Fujita
Professor, Osaka University
Functional Architecture and Postnatal Development of Association Cortex

Keiji Wada
Director, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry
Bio-communication between “Mother and Child” for Nurturing the Brain

Year Started: 2004

adashi Isa
Professor, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences
Mechanism of Post-injury Functional Compensation of Neural Circuits

Noriko Osumi
Professor, Tohoku University
Molecular Mechanisms of Postnatal Neurogenesis and its Influence on Animal Behaviors

Junichi Nabekura
Professor, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences
Re-arrangement of Neuronal Circuits during Development and during Recovery from Brain Damage

Hisao Nishijo
Professor, University of Toyama
Comprehensive Study on Neural Mechanisms of Emotional Development and its Disorders

Takao K. Hensch
Team Leader, RIKEN
Integrated Elucidation of Critical Period Mechanism by Live Brain Imaging

Year Started: 2003

Kuniyoshi L. Sakai
Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo
Identification of Acquisition Mechanisms Based on Language Function in the Brain

Yoshio Sakurai
Professor, Kyoto University
Detection of Learning Potential and Neural Plasticity in Aged Brains with the BMI Method

Yoichi Sugita
Group Leader, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
Characteristic Properties and Importance of Perceptual Learning in Infancy

Gentaro Taga
Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo
Research on Developmental Brain Sciences in Infants

Katsuki Nakamura
Director, National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry
The Role of Bodily Movement (action) on the Development of Communication

Tomoo Hirano
Professor, Kyoto University
Comprehensive Study on Learning Mechanism Dependent on the Cerebellum

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