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Personal profile

Personal Statement

The goal of our research team is (1) to understand how sensory information is processed by brain circuits, and (2) to develop better strategies for the improvement and restoration of sensory abilities, with emphasis on hearing.

Out strategies are (1) to study normal information processing, (2) to study abnormal information processing, and (3) to develop tools to modulate brain functions. Our main techniques are in vivo ensemble recording, optogenetics, and behavioural approaches. 


Research Interests

Research Projects
1. State-dependent auditory processing and perception
When we are paying attention to sound, we can vividly perceive it. When sleep, however, our perception is siginificantly diminished. But what is happening in the brain? Because our brain activity ('brain state') continuously changes, it is extremely important to address the following three questions: 1) how is each brain state organized at the level of neural circuit? 2) how do brain states affect sensory processing and perceptual decision? and 3) how are brain states regulated? We are addressing these questions by taking multidisciplinary approaches, with a focus on dynamic interplays between the auditory system and neuromodulatory systems.

2. The circuit mechanism of abnormal hearing
Brain circuits often generate auditory perception even in the absence of auditory inputs, such as auditory hallucinations. But how? We are particularly focusing on phantom auditory perception, so-called tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom, which is often associated with hearing loss. Considering aging society and age-related hearing loss, a better understanding of the neural basis of tinnitus is extremly urgent. We are aiming to identify neural correlates of tinnitus at the level of neuronal circuits. By using a massively parallel extracellular recording technique and a behavioural approach, we are determining relationships between tinnitus and abnormal neural population activity in the auditory thalamocortical circuit. This research program will provide further insight into the development of new treatment for tinnitus sufferers.

3. Technology development to improve and restore hearing
Once we understand both normal and abnormal states, a next step is to explore strategies to restore abnormal states into the normal one. In addition, we can also think of how we can boost our normal brain functions. To achieve these goals, we are developing new approaches and technologies. We are particularly interested in the improvement and restoration of sensory abilities by controlling neural activity. Combining advanced technologies in rodents as a model, we are developing novel strategies to improve and restore hearing.

***Our research team is currently accepting applications from prospective PhD students and postdocs. In particular, persons who have strong background in physics, mathematics, or engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. ***


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Research Output

Biased M1-muscarinic-receptor-mutant mice inform the design of next-generation drugs

Bradley, S. J., Molloy, C., Valuskova, P., Dwomoh, L., Scarpa, M., Rossi, M., Finlayson, L., Svensson, K. A., Chernet, E., Barth, V. N., Gherbi, K., Sykes, D. A., Wilson, C. A., Mistry, R., Sexton, P. M., Christopoulos, A., Mogg, A. J., Rosenthorne, E. M., Sakata, S., Challiss, R. A. J. & 2 others, Broad, L. M. & Tobin, A. B., 31 Mar 2020, In : Nature Chemical Biology. 16, 3, p. 240-249 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 2 Citations (Scopus)

    Disentangling neuronal inhibition and inhibitory pathways in the lateral habenula

    Webster, J. F., Vroman, R., Balueva, K., Wulff, P., Sakata, S. & Wozny, C., 22 May 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 1, 17 p., 8490.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 7 Downloads (Pure)


    An investigation of the neural circuitry that mediates inhibitory signalling within the lateral habenula

    Author: Webster, J. F., 3 Feb 2020

    Supervisor: Wozny, C. (Supervisor) & Sakata, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Functional laminar architecture of rat primary auditory cortex following acoustic trauma

    Author: Khodai, T. J., 27 Mar 2015

    Supervisor: Sakata, S. (Supervisor) & Pratt, J. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The Sir Robin MacLellan Award

    Shuzo Sakata (Recipient), 2013

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    External examiner

    Shuzo Sakata (Examiner)
    11 Feb 2019

    Activity: Examination typesExamination

    Optical approaches to interrogate state-dependent and cell-type-specific activity in the brain

    Shuzo Sakata (Speaker)
    5 Dec 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk