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Since the foundation in 1922, our department has produced numerous neuroscientists who are active all over the world. Our section in the Physiology department has been exploring the underlying mechanisms of various brain functions. Currently we are interested in neuronal mechanisms of voluntary movements and related cognitive functions, and conduct research on non-human primates. In addition, our faculty members teach neuroscience courses in the Graduate School of Medicine and the School of Medicine.


Much is already known about the brain. Research on humans has revealed which parts of the brain are implicated in specific functions, while research with small animals has elucidated the elements composing the brain. In this way, “where” and “what” of the brain have been amply explored. However, exploring “how” the brain operates computations and processes signals in individual neurons for our life – in other words, the very core of brain mechanisms – is still a big challenge in neuroscience.


Details of our research projects can be found in the Research Topics page. In general, we perform neurophysiological experiments on behaving monkeys, and conduct psychological testing on healthy human subjects and neurological patients. By locally administering neuroactive agents or applying electrical microstimulation to the animals’ brain, we can analyze how functional molecules modulate neuronal signals, and how these signals in turn regulate behavior. These researches not only uncover the underlying mechanisms of brain functions, but also shed light on understanding of the pathologies of many neurological disorders.

  Department of Physiology: Professor Masaki Tanaka


1922: Second curriculum in physiology launched (First chair: Susumu Hozawa)
1955: Second chair: Bun’ichi Fujimori
1974: Third chair: Masamichi Kato
1996: Fourth chair: Kikuro Fukushima
1998: With an emphasis on bolstering the graduate curriculum, department renamed to Department of Integrated Physiology and Cognitive-Behavioral Research
2007: After restructuring, curriculum renamed to Physiology
2010: Fifth chair: Masaki Tanaka
2012: Department renamed to Systems Neuroscience