Toru Takahata






Dr. Takahata received his Ph.D. for basic biology from The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), Okazaki, Japan in 2005. During the Ph.D. program, he studied characteristic gene expressions in primate cerebral cortex, mentored by Prof. Tetsuo Yamamori. He extended his research in the corresponding laboratory in the National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan until he joined the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. He engaged studies in comparative neuroanatomy there for his postdoctoral projects with Drs. Jon H. Kaas and Troy A. Hackett. He joined ZIINT as a faculty staff in November, 2014. His goal is to comprehend evolutionary history and development of primate brains at the molecular level.


Research Interests:

What is the fundamental difference between primate brains and rodent brains, which enables primates' highly cognitive functions? Whereas subcortical and cerebellar structures are well-conserved in rodents and primates, the cerebral cortex is distinct in primates in terms of size and complexity. We have revealed distinct gene expression patterns in the cerebral cortex that are unique in primate species. We will study what regulates expressions of these genes, and what their functional significance is. We will also examine novel neuroanatomical structures of the primate cerebral cortex through investigation of activity-dependent gene expression.


Research Directions:

Molecular mechanisms: We have revealed that gene expression profile of primate cerebral cortex is fairly heterogeneous among cortical areas, which are functionally specialized to compute complex information (Figure). This was unique to primates and not found in any non-primate mammalians. We will aim to find out what controls expression of these genes, and functional significance of the genes.

Experience-dependent mechanisms: In the later stages of development of the nervous system, precise organization is determined depending on sensory experiences, rather than genetic control. We will investigate how much degree of plasticity plays roles in determining organization of the cerebral cortex over genetic control on ocular dominance columns and orientation columns in the primate visual cortex.



2010 Japan Society for Promotion of Science, Postdoctoral Fellowship (2 year-fellowship from April 2011 to March 2013, 5,250,000 JPY per year)

2007  Naito Foundation, Postdoctoral Fellowship (1 year-fellowship from April 2008 to March 2009, 1,000,000 JPY)

2007 Uehara Memorial Foundation, Postdoctoral Fellowship,(1 year-fellowship from April 2008 to March 2009, 3,400,000 JPY)


Selected Publications:

1.    Takahata, T., Miyashita, M., Tanaka, S. and Kaas, J. H. Identification of ocular dominance domains in New World owl monkeys by immediate-early gene expression. (2014) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111 (11): 4297-4302

2.    Takahata, T., Shukla, R., Yamamori, T. and Kaas, J. H. Differential expression patterns of striate-cortex-enriched genes among Old World, New World and prosimian primates. (2012) Cerebral Cortex 22 (10): 2313-2321

3.    Takahata, T., Higo, N., Kaas, J.H. and Yamamori, T. Expression of immediate-early genes reveals functional compartments within ocular dominance columns after brief monocular inactivation. (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106 (29): 12151-12155

4.    Takahata, T., Komatsu, Y., Watakabe, A., Hashikawa, T., Tochitani, S. and Yamamori, T. Differential expression patterns of occ1-related genes in adult monkey visual cortex. (2009) Cerebral Cortex 19 (8): 1937-1951

5.    Takahata, T., Komatsu, Y., Watakabe, A., Hashikawa, T., Tochitani, S. and Yamamori, T. Activity-dependent expression of occ1 in excitatory neurons is a characteristic feature of the primate visual cortex. (2006) Cerebral Cortex 16 (7): 929-940


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