FY2019 Annual report

Sensory and Behavioural Neuroscience Unit
Assistant Professor Izumi Fukunaga



One of the fundamental questions in sensory neuroscience is how different aspects of the world are represented in the brain. Most systems in the brain seem to use parallel processing – dealing with different features of stimuli using dedicated information streams, that work in parallel. In olfaction, segregation of information into distinct streams begins in the olfactory bulb, the primary olfactory area in mammals. We have spent some time analyzing what the differences are, and how to study this experimentally. This fiscal year, we are making some progress in developing a way to selectively perturbing one stream vs. the other, by searching for a selective marker. Work on this will hopefully be reported soon.

The lab has also expanded: we have a new post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Janine Reinert, who obtained a PhD in neuroscience from University of Heidelberg, Germany, and joined us in October. Ms. Xiaochen Fu also joined us as a full-time PhD student.  

The goal for the coming year is to learn more about how circuits in the olfactory system implement useful functions – and for everyone in the lab to make their own discoveries! 


1. Staff

  • Dr. Izumi Fukunaga, Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Sander Lindeman, Researcher
  • Dr. Janine Reinert, Researcher
  • Dr. Cary Zhang, Researcher
  • Ms. Aliya Adefuin, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Xiaochen Fu, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Yu-Pei Huang, Technical Staff
  • Ms. Sayori Gordon, Administrative Assistant

2. Collaborations

2.1 Internal collaborators

Dr Keiko Kono (Membranology Unit)

2.2 External collaborators

Dr Hiroaki Matsunami (Duke University)

3. Activities and Findings

3.1 Parallel olfactory processing in the olfactory bulb

Features of the world are often processed in the brain using parallel streams of information processing. In the olfactory system, olfactory processing is thought to diverge in the primary area, namely, the olfactory bulb, into mitral- and tufted-streams. A key to understanding how these contribute to behaviour is a suitable tool. We made some progress on a way to label mitral cells specifically. After a careful characterisation, our plan is to make the information, as well as the line, available to others via a public depository.



 Meetings and Events


- ​Dynamic modulation of the olfactory bulb at the European Chemoreception Research Organization, Trieste, Italy

Dynamic modulation of the olfactory bulb at the Brains and Roses International Symposium on Olfaction, College de France, Paris, France

New tools for studying cell-type specific olfactory processing at the joint symposium between Ryukyus University and OIST


Poster presentations

- A behavioural paradigm for investigating olfactory figure-ground segregation at the 26th East Asia Joint Symposium, Seoul, South Korea

- Pkib may be a marker for mitral cells at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, USA