FY2023 Annual Report

Neuronal Rhythms in Movement (nRIM) unit
Assistant Professor Marylka Yoe Uusisaari

nRIM in April 2023.
From left to right : Aysen Gurkan Ozer, Deviana David, Yoe, Bogna Ignatowska-Jankowska, Tara Helmi Turkki, Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, Guo Da, Salvatore Lacava, Kayoko Ikeda, Hugo Hoedemaker and Kohgaku Eguchi.


Collage of the praising words for nRIM
Collage of the praising words for nRIM!

2023 was a year of critical importance for nRIM - we underwent our first-ever Unit Review process, involving in-depth evaluation of the scholarship and training of the whole team. Preparation for the evaluation - conducted by an illustrious panel of international reviewers - was the central theme for the unit throughout the year, with all unit members placed in a position to examine their own work and performance in critical light. We are happy to say that the work paid off, and each and every member of the team was found to be outstanding, validating our values and vision for science! In the process, Yoe was promoted to Associate Professor.

By end of FY2023, two new research papers been submitted for publication, and we are increasingly excited about the prospect of having first of our students getting near graduation ...

1. Staff

  • Dr. Kohgaku Eguchi, Group Leader/Staff Scientist
  • Dr. Da Guo, Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Dr. Bogna Ignatowska-Jankowska, Postdoctoral Scholar
  • Mr. Hugo Hoedemaker, Research Unit Technician
  • Mr. Salvatore Andrea Lacava, PhD student (JSPS fellow)
  • Ms. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, PhD student
  • Ms. Deviana David, PhD student
  • Ms. Tara Helmi Turkki, PhD student
  • Ms. Kayoko Ikeda, Research Unit Administrator
  • Ms. Karolina Jerabkova, special inter student (July - September 2023)
  • Mr. Necmettin Isilak, intern student (Oct 2023 - Mar 2024)
  • Mr. Hugo Nusselder, intern student (Jan - Mar 2024)

2. Collaborations

External collaborations:

  • The laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Cravatt, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and Department of Chemical Physiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • The laboratory of Dr. Sylvia Fitting at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • The laboratory of Dr. Katarzyna Bozek, Center for Molecular Medicine, Cologne, Germany
  • The laboratory of Dr. Yosef Yarom, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Dr. Simo Järvelä, Gamification Group, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences, Tampere University, and Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki
  • Collaborative research agreement and consulting agreement with REPS JAPAN Co., Ltd. Innovation Square Incubator, Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology.

Internal collaborations:

  • Neurobiology research unit (Prof. Jeff Wickens)
  • Memory research unit (Prof. Kazumasa Tanaka)
  • Immune signal unit (Prof. Hiroki Ishikawa)
  • Biological physics theory unit (Prof. Greg Stephens)
  • Membrane cooperativity unit (Prof. Akihiro Kusumi)

3. Activities and Findings

  1. Project: Kinematic signatures of endocannabinoid system function (Project leader: Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska; other participants: Dr. Gurkan Ozer, Ms. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan): in FY23, the team completed the manuscript, and submitted it for peer review. The next stage of experiments has been initiated, combining the 3D motion capture with calcium imaging of neuronal networks in freely behaving mice and the analysis of the data is ongoing.
  2. Project: In vivo fluorescent imaging of inferior olive (IO) network activity (Project leader: Dr. Guo; other participants: Dr. Kohgaku Eguchi, Mr. Hugo Hoedemaker): in FY23, the project focusing on the IO activity in an anesthetized animal model is near completion, and a manuscript is preparing for submission. The team has initiated the investigation into awake animals, and the surgical procedure for dorsal GRIN lens implantation into IO has been established. 
  3. PhD project (Project leader: Salvatore Andrea Lacava; other participants: Hugo Hoedamaker, and Isilak Necmettin): A study on the neuronal control of mouse tail in balance. In FY23 Preliminary optogenetic manipulation experiments were analyzed and revealed link between vestibular system and tail control. Optogenetic manipuation of direct pathway from vestibular complex to sacral spinal cord is in preparation. The manuscript on the behavioral experiment performed in FY2020 has been submitted. A second manuscript with anatomical and optogenetic findings is under progress.
  4. PhD project (Lakshmipriya Swaminathan): Elucidating the organisation principles of motor control in mice using the Lagrangian formulation. Movement manifolds of the locomotor movements were built using delay-embedding methods, the results were presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience Neuro 2023 meeting; results were also presented at HHMI Janelia as part of an invited talk. Additional experiments with drug perturbations were conducted (FY 2023).A novel mathematical representation of locomotory movements of mice obtained from analysis of data obtained in the previous year and presented at the JNS NEURO 2022 conference held in Okinawa Japan (FY 2022).Large-scale experiments completed in FY2021, results presented at Astrobiology Graduate Conference (FY 2021).
  5. PhD project (Deviana David): Sensory modulation of olivocerebellar system: study of superior colliculus to inferior olive (SC-IO) Pathway. Identification and characterization of novel pathways linking the SC and IO, which leads to in-vivo experiments to examine the effect of SC input on the activity of IO neuronal population. Result presented at JNS Neuro 2022 and GRC Cerebellum 2023. Currently preparing for behavioral experiments. Two of unit interns participate in the project, Ms. Karolina Jerabkova for the measurement of SC-IO synaptic boutons and Mr. Hugo Nusselder for identification of neurotransmitter identity of SC-IO synapse using IHC. 
  6. PhD project (Tara Helmi Turkki): Effects of Motor Learning on Mouse Inferior Olive Neuronal Gene Expression and Morphology. In FY2023, successfully submitted and defended the proposal for the project and began experiments in animal behavior and immunohistochemistry. 

    (Aysen teaching 3 external students a difficult in-utero surgical procedure)

4. Publications

4.1 Journals​

  1. Yadav-Samudrala BJ, Ravula HP, Barmada KM, Dodson H, Poklis JL, Ignatowska-Jankowska BM, Lichtman AH, Reissner KJ and Fitting S. Acute Effects of Monoacylglycerol Lipase Inhibitor ABX1431 on Neuronal Hyperexcitability, Nociception, Locomotion, and the Endocannabinoid System in HIV-1 Tat Male Mice. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (in Press).

4.2 Oral and Poster Presentations​

  1. Invited Lecture at Motor Control Science Club, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Germany. Distinct behavioral phenotypes induced by endocannabinoid modulation in high-precision 3D motion capture of freely moving mice. Ignatowska-Jankowska BM. May 17, 2023, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne, Germany.

  2. Poster presentation at the International Cannabinoid Research Society Symposium on Cannabinoids, 24-29 June, Toronto, Canada. Ignatowska-Jankowska BM, Gurkan-Ozer A, Kuck A, Niphakis MJ, Ogasawara D, Cravatt BF, Uusisaari MY. Endocannabinoid system modulation affects locomotory episode structure. International Cannabinoid Research Society Symposium on Cannabinoids, 24-29 June, Toronto, Canada.
  3. Invited talk at the Tohoku NeuroTech Symposium (TNS) 2023. Uusisaari MY. “Information”: brain activity seen through the information landscape of animal. July 31, 2023, Sendai, Japan.
  4. Poster presentation at the 46th Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society: Refining the Viral Labeling Procedure of the Mouse Inferior Olive by Ventral Approach. Hoedemaker J.F.H, Turkki T, Ignatowska-Jankowska BM, Uusisaari MY. August 1-4, 2023, Sendai, Japan.
  5. Poster presentation at the Japan Neuroscience Society Meeting. Eguchi K, Shigemoto R. Alternative splicing of CaV2.1-EF-hand regulates coupling between calcium influx-synaptic vesicle exocytosis. August 1-4, Sendai, Japan.
  6. Invited talk at the Gordon Research Conference Cerebellum 2023.Uusisaari MY. Return of the Olive. August 8, 2023, ME, USA.
  7. Poster presentation at the Cerebellum Gordon Research Seminar: David D, Guo D, Uusisaari M.Y. The investigation of the inferior olive afferents from the superior colliculus in mice. August 5-6, 2023, ME, USA.
  8. Poster presentation at the Cerebellum Gordon Research Conference: David D, Guo D, Uusisaari M.Y. The investigation of the inferior olive afferents from the superior colliculus in mice. August 6-11, 2023, ME, USA.
  9. Oral Presentation at OIST-Riken Neuroscience symposium. SA Lacava. A tail of tails: what mice can teach us on the neuronal control of balance. August 23, 2023, OIST.
  10. Talk at OIST-Riken Brain Symposium, August 21-23, 2023; Distinct behavioral phenotypes induced by endocannabinoid modulation in high-precision marker-based 3D motion capture of freely moving mice.  Ignatowska-Jankowska BM, Gurkan-Ozer A, Kuck A, Niphakis MJ, Ogasawara D, Cravatt BF, Uusisaari MY. August 23, 2023, OIST.

  11. Poster Presentation at Benzon Symposium 67 – Bringing Circuit for Movement Together. SA Lacava, Uusisaari MY. The role of tails in maitaining balance: neuronal and behavioral insights from the mouse. September 4-7, 2023, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  12. Talk at the NIPS meeting on Synapse Physiology. Eguchi K & Shigemoto R. "Alternative splicing of CaV2.1 EF-hand regulates calcium influx-sensor coupling for neurotransmitter release in mouse cerebellar synapses". October 19-20, 2023, Kagoshima, Japan.
  13. Poster presentation at the 52nd Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting: Ignatowska-Jankowska B, Gurkan-Ozer A, Kuck A, Niphakis MJ, Ogasawara D, Cravatt BF, Uusisaari MY. Inhibition of endocannabinoid catabolic enzymes affects locomotory episode structure in mice. 11-15 November 2023 Washington DC, USA Presentation Number: PSTR046.14

  14. Poster presentation at the 52nd Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting: Swaminathan L, Ignatowska-Jankowska B, Gurkan Ozer A, Uusisaari MY. Exploring body configurations of mice during treadmill running locomotion. 11-15 November 2023, Washington DC, USA Presentation Number: PSTR416.07

  15. Invited talk at the Janelia research campus. Swaminathan L, Of Movement and Mice. November 7, 2023, VA, USA.

  16. Presentation at University at Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, David DL. “The study of superior colliculus to inferior olive pathway” December 12, 2023, CO, USA.

  17. Invited talk at Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), Academia Sinica. Eguchi K. The physiological impact of Cav2.1 EF-hand alternative splicing on calcium influx-sensor coupling for neurotransmitter release. December 19, 2023, Taiwan.

  18. Lecture at Tampere University, Gamification group, Uusisaari MY. How minds move matter - on computation below cognition. December 19, 2023, Finland.

  19. Presentation at University of Helsinki, Synaptic Plasticity and Development group, Turkki, T. Examining Morphological and Transcriptional Effects of Motor Learning in the Mouse Inferior Olive. December 20, 2023, Finland.

  20. Talk at the Neuroscience Symposium "The past and the future of synaptic physiology" Eguchi K. Exploring the role of phosphoinositides in synaptic transmission by visualization and manipulation. February 13-14, 2024, at OIST, Japan.

  21. Talk at the Sensorimotor circuits for limb control Workshop at OIST. Uusisaari M.Y. More than a decoration: how mice use tails for balancing. March 6, 2024 at OIST, Japan.

  22. Open lecture at the Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences: Distinct behavioral phenotypes induced by endocannabinoid modulation in high-precision 3D motion capture of freely moving mice. Ignatowska-Jankowska BM March 6th 2024, Cracow, Poland.

  23. Talk at the OIST internal seminar: Eguchi K. Regulation of the stability of synaptic transmission mediated by CaV2.1 EF-hand alternative splicing and tightness of calcium influx-sensor coupling. March 8, 2024, at OIST, Japan.

  24. Seminar at the Department of the Animal Physiology, University of Gdansk: Distinct behavioral phenotypes induced by endocannabinoid modulation in high-precision 3D motion capture of freely moving mice. Ignatowska-Jankowska BM. March 13th 2024, Gdansk, Poland.

  25. Talk at the 101st Annual Meeting of The Physiological Society of Japan: Eguchi K & Shigemoto R. Physiological impact of P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium channel distribution in the presynaptic active zone on synaptic transmission. Symposium "The physiological significance of ion-regulated membrane protein localization revealed by morphological and physiological approaches" (organizers: Ayako Takeuchi, Yugo Fukazawa). March 28-30, 2024, Japan.

Bogna giving a lecture at the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), Institute of Pharmacology

5.  Other Specific Achievements

5.1 Grants

  • Prof. Uusisaari: Kakenhi Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A): 身体モジュレーションと神経モジュレーションによる心身機能の改善 / as a co-Investigator of Prof.Rieko Osu

  • Prof. Uusisaari: Kakenhi  Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C):  High-resolution spatiotemporal analysis of harmaline-induced tremor and inferior olive activity in living mice

  • Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska: Kakenhi Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C): In vivo imaging of endocannabinoid-regulated neuronal network activity coupled with 3D movement analysis in freely behaving mice

  • Dr. Guo: Kakenhi grant (early career): The correlation and contribution of spatiotemporal firing pattern of inferior olive neurons to the cyclical movement

  • Dr.Kohgaku Eguchi: Kakenhi Grant-in-Aid for Research Activity Start-up : PIP2および代謝型グルタミン酸受容体の分布様式に基づくIP3産生過程の計算モデリング(omputational modeling of IP3 production in neuronal dendritic spines based on the distribution pattern of PIP2 and mGluRs)

  • Tara Turkki: Oskar Huttunen Foundation Postgraduate Grant for Effects of Motor Enrichment on Mouse Inferior Olive Neuronal Gene Expression and Morphology. 

Tara's first-of-a-kind fellowship award was noted widely! 

5.2 Awards

Special award! Ana was awarded special prize at the GRC Cerebellum meeting for "Exceptional professionalism and courage"!

Student saving the lab: Ana saved the nRIM presence at GRC Cerebellum meeting - due to a massive typhoon Yoe was not able to make it in time for her talk, but Ana took up the challenge and presented the talk instead with 14 hours notice time! 


6. Meetings and Events

6.1 Seminars and events hosted by nRIM unit

6.1.1 "Effects of group and individual rearing conditions on behavioral and autonomic thermoregulation during cold in mice"

  • Date: November 30, 2023
  • Venue: OIST Campus Lab4
  • Speaker: Dr.Issei Kato (Waseda University)

6.1.2 "GABAB receptors induce phasic release from medial habenula terminals through activity-dependent recruitment of release-ready vesicles"

  • Date: February 8, 2024
  • Venue: OIST Campus Lab4
  • Speaker: Prof.Ryuichi Shigemoto (Institute of Science and Technology Austria)

Visitor seminar: Dr. Issei Kato (from Waseda University, Saitama) told us about how mice like to huddle for warmth.

Visitor seminar: Prof. Ryuichi Shigemoto (from ISTA, Austria) speaks to a full room

6.1.3 OIST Workshop "Sensorimotor Circuits for Limb Control (SCLC)"

  • Dates: March 5-8, 2024
  • Venue: OIST Main Campus, Seminar Room B250
  • Organizers:
    Yutaka Yoshida (Burke Neurological Institute/Weill Cornell Medicine and OIST)
    Eiman Azim (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)
    Rui Costa (Columbia University)
    Tadashi Isa (Kyoto University)
    Marylka Yoe Uusisaari (OIST)

Presentation: Salvatore's groundbreaking tail research had it's first large-audience presentation at the SCLC!

Lab tours: Tara (in photo), Lakshmi and Salvatore arranged double-booked lab tours for the conference visitors, demonstrating our work to improve laboratory animal wellbeing.

Young students and established figures of motor neuroscience field received insights on ethical animal research from our students

7. Other

7.1 Symposia during the 46th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society.

In August 2023, the 46th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society was held in Sendai, Japan. Three members of the nRIM lab presented posters. 

  • Dr. Kohgaku Eguchi presented a poster titled "Alternative splicing of CaV2.1-EF-hand regulates coupling between calcium influx-synaptic vesicle exocytosis". 
  • Technician Hugo Hoedemaker and student Tara Turkki presented a poster titled "Refining the Viral Labeling Procedure of the Mouse Inferior Olive by Ventral Approach". 
Dr. Kohgaku Eguchi's poster presentation
Dr. Kohgaku Eguchi's poster presentation.
Hugo Hoedemaker and Tara Turkki with their poster.

7.2 Activities during OIST Researcher Appreciation Month (RAM)

Researcher Appreciation Month (RAM) was held in October 2023, clashing with our Unit Review timing. Despite tight scheduling, some of nRIM members contributed to the activities.

Bogna as a judge of the blitz session during RAM2023

7. 3 Academic service

7. 3.1 Teaching Assistant positions

  1. Deviana David was a TA for the Neural Dynamics of Movement course, taught by Prof. Marylka Yoe Uusisaari (held from Jan 2024 - Apr 2024), tutoring the students into methodology of experimental design and data analysis;
  2. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan was a TA for the Neural Dynamics of Movement course,  and gave a lecture titled "Theories of control".
  3. Lakshmipriya Swaminathan was a TA for the Physics for the Life Sciences course, taught by Prof. Bernd Kuhn (held from January 2023 - April 2023), during which she was involved in teaching students the mathematic concepts underlying different data analytic methods used in the field of neuroscience.

7. 3. 2 Seminar/Journal club organization

  • Lakshmipriya Swaminathan was also part of the OIST Internal Seminar Series organizing committee. The committee organized talks by a student and researcher once every two weeks, aimed at a general science audience.

7. 3. 3 Membership in Committee/Council

nRIM members are engaged in various workgroups aiming to improve OIST as a place to study and work.

  • Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, Hugo Hoedemaker and Bogna Ignatowska-Jankowska served as a peer-supporters (joint initiative by the students, researchers and the Ganjuu mental well-being service)
  • Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska served as OIST researcher community representative at Gender, Equity, Inclusivity Committee. 
  • Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska served as  Expert Panel member National Science Center (NCN, Poland)
  • Dr. Ignatowska-Jankowska became a member of Safety and Health Committee at OIST, as an OIST researcher community representative. 
  • Tara Turkki served as a member of the Student Council both as Senior Academic Deputy, as well as Communications Officer. 

7.4 Community Outreach

  • Salvatore volunteered to the Yokohama Science Frontier School Visit at OIST on the 17th of October 2023.
  • Tara and Yoe took part in the inaugural OISTxONNA Mölkky tournament in March 2023! Mölkky is a Finnish summer past time, and so all the other Finns in Okinawa (all of them OISTers it seems) joined as well
    Finnish OISTers - Heidi, Yoe, Tara and Sylvester (from the TVSP program, see his talk here!) 


  • Lakshmipriya Swaminathan volunteered as a facilitator for the Gender Equality Workshop, held jointly by Iam (Okinawan organisation for woman empowerment), Yomitan municipality, and OIST LGBTQIA+ allies club.
    Lakshmi facilitating one of the discussions at the gender equality workshop
    Lakshmi facilitated one of the discussions at the workshop.
    The workshop had participants from the prefectural office, multiple organisations including schools and universities in Okinawa
    The workshop had participants ranging from policy advisors from the prefectural government office of Okinawa to high school students from Yomitan.


  • Tara Turkki, Lakshmipriya Swaminathan, and Deviana David participated in the formation of a feminist group at OIST and in an event held by the group on March 8th which included a performance, an interactive game with the community, and informational posters in the theme of International Womens' Day. 
Performance of the Un Violador en Tu Camino chant
Interactive game