Department of Health and Sport Sciences

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

Cognition and behavior – Exploring human functional neuroanatomy and the mechanism of visual motor control in animals
  • Neuroaesthetics of art: Mechanism in the brain that correlates with psychological responses to visual stimuli of artwork
  • Functions of neuromodulators (acetylcholine, noradrenaline, serotonin, etc.) in visual discrimination behaviors of rats
  • Mechanism of human visual motor control
  • Mechanism of receptive field formation in the early visual system of cats
Professor Hiromichi Sato
Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
Professor Sato began various neurophysiological research activities on animal visual systems and neuromodulators after joining the Exercise Physiology Department in the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences, and eventually joined the Graduate School of Medicine to establish the current Laboratory of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

To elucidate the brain mechanisms of human senses and explore the relationship between animal cognitive function and behavior at the neuronal level

Humans gain pleasant experiences from an appreciation of art. Through neurophysiological experiments using animal models, it was possible to study the mechanism of receptive field formation in the visual system at the single neuron activity level. Currently, by making use of artworks as a source of quantitative stimuli, brain activities detected (by fMRI, electroencephalogram) from human subjects are used as a measurement of psychological responses during the appreciation of art. By elucidating the correlation between stimuli from artworks, psychological responses, and brain activities, brain structures involved in the generation of emotions, which is considered advanced brain function, can be better understood. In addition, by manipulating features of image stimuli and observing for changes on the impressions generated, the characteristics of different emotional senses can be revealed. This information may be advantageous for the improvement of industrial design and living environments.

Figure 1

During the utilization of visual cognitive function and visual motility control function, arousal level and behavioral context, and also emotions such as impatience, anxiety, concentration and motivation, may constantly fluctuate depending on mental conditions. It is hypothesized that depending on different situations, neuromodulators that are widely secreted in the entire brain (such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline and serotonin), act on the visual information processing system, leading to subsequent functional changes. By performing electrophysiological experiments to record neuronal activity in the rat visual cortex to psychophysical experiments that investigate physical response characteristics during the execution of human visual motor tasks, a broad range of experiments are being carried out with the attempt to verify this hypothesis. Through this research, we aim to optimize visual information processing and improve the performance of sports athletes.

Figure 2