Research Projects

Neural mechanisms for flexible motor control

A Japanese proverb says "柔能く剛を制す" (ju-yoku-go-wo-seisu, "flexibility over rigidity"). One of the most important abilities of animals is to flexibly and appropriately adapt their behaviour to ever-changing environments. To achieve such flexible behaviour, animals need to correctly recognize the state of the environment and the body, predict changes in the future, understand the behavioural goal, and generate appropriate motor commands. "Optimal feedback control theory" is an unifying framework of these complex and diverse sensorimotor processes. Our research goal is to elucidate the neural mechanisms of voluntary motor control and movement disorders based on optimal feedback control theory. To this end, we integrate cortical and subcortical neural recordings in NHPs, analysis for the structure behind the neural signals, muscle activity recordings, computational simulations and artificial neural network modellings. 

Takei T, Lomber SG, Cook DJ, Scott SH (2021) Transient deactivation of dorsal premotor cortex or parietal area 5 impairs feedback control of the limb in macaques. Current Biology 31(7):1476–1487.

Selected publications [+]

Neural mechanisms for dexterous hand movements

Dexterous hand movements are a motor function that evolved specifically in primates and are fundamental to our everyday and cultural activities. For the control of these hand movements, various evolutionarily distinct neural pathways have been shown to be involved, but their functional differences are still unidentified. We have electrophysiologically recorded neuronal activity involved in hand movements from the spinal cord, brain stem and cerebral cortex of NHPs during grasping tasks and have identified differences in their physiological and anatomical properties. We believe that these results will reveal the neural basis underlying the evolution of skilful paw movements in primates and the mechanisms of functional recovery after injury in the central nervous system.

Song Y, Hirashima M, Takei T (2022) Neural network models for spinal implementation of muscle synergies. Frontiers in System Neuroscience 16:800628.

Selected publications [+]

Funding Sources

We thank the funding agencies for their generous support for our research.