FY2019 Annual Report

Memory Research Unit, Assistant Professor Kazumasa Z. Tanaka


The Memory Research Unit aims to understand how memories are stored and used in the brain. The hippocampus, together with its related structures, plays a unique role in memories of past events. Nevertheless, its specific contribution remains unclear. Our unit aims to reveal the mechanism of memory by using multidisciplinary approaches in rodents.

During FY2019, we initiated setting up the laboratory. Outstanding scientists joined the unit and we keep recruiting more talents to build a diverse team in terms of both academic and cultural backgrounds. We are shifting to a phase for building up equipment and expect to complete by the end of FY2020.



1. Staff

  • Damien Mercier, Staff Scientist (Feb. 2020-)
  • Hiroto Ashitomi, Technician (Mar. 2020-)
  • Chie Narai, Research Unit Administrator

2. Collaborations

2.1 Characterization of the dendritic microstructure in the hippocampus

  • Type of collaboration: Joint research
  • Researchers:
    • Professor, Masato Koike, Juntendo University
    • Assistant Professor, Laxmi Kumar Parajuli, Juntendo University
    • Team Leader, Thomas J. McHugh, RIKEN
    • Team Leader, Akiko Hayashi-Takagi, RIKEN

2.2 Characterization of local connectivity of the hippocampal neurons

  • Type of collaboration: Joint research
  • Researchers:
    • Team Leader, Thomas J. McHugh, RIKEN
    • Team Leader, Andrea Benucci, RIKEN
    • Research Scientist, Ryo Aoki, RIKEN
    • Research Scientist, Vladislav Sekulic, RIKEN

3. Activities and Findings

3.1 Lab set-ups

In March 2020, lab space in the new Lab4 building became available for the Memory Research Unit. We are currently setting up lab equipment including high-density recording rigs & miniature microscopes, behavioral apparatus for mice, optogenetics, etc.


4. Publications

4.1 Journals

  1. Tanaka, KZ. A father's odyssey. Science, Vol. 365, Issue 6449, pp. 194 doi:10.1177/1059712310397633 DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6449.194 (2019). [career essay]
  2. Tanaka, KZ. The heterogeneous representations in the hippocampus. Neuroscience Research (accepted) [invited review paper]
  3. Tanaka, KZ.*, Goode, TD.*, Sahay, A., McHugh, TJ. Hippocampal Memory: Indexing, Space and Engrams. Neuron (under review) [invited review paper, *equally contributed]

4.2 Books and other one-time publications

Nothing to report

4.3 Oral and Poster Presentations

  1. Kazumasa Z. Tanaka. Heterogeneous memory traces in the hippocampus, NEURO2019 (The 42nd Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society & The 62nd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Neurochemistry), Niigata, Japan, July 25-28 (2019).
    Oral presentation.
    Symposium "Neuronal Substrates for Episodic Memory", co-organized with Dr. Takashi Kitamura (University of Texas, Southwestern)
  2. Kazumasa Z. Tanaka. The hippocampus and memory / Juggling research and parenting, Symposium organized by Society for Young researchers on Neuroscience, Tokyo, Japan, December 11 (2019).
    Invited lecture.

5. Intellectual Property Rights and Other Specific Achievements

Nothing to report.

6. Meetings and Events

Nothing to report.

7. Other

Guest editor in Neuroscience Research, Vol 152, March 2020
"Technologies advancing neuroscience"
Thomas J. McHugh and Kazumasa Z. Tanaka