Hiroyuki Kato, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Psychiatry and Neuroscience Center
Institution
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Address
115 Mason Farm Road, Neurosciences Research Building, Room 8109B, Campus Box 7250
City, State, Zip
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Phone
(919) 843-8764
E-mail
hiroyuki_kato@med.unc.edu
Website
https://katolab-unc.org
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2018

Research

The Kato lab will explore how mice extract and process auditory information from the environment. Sounds often guide animal behavior: For example, an “isolation call” will direct a mother mouse to retrieve her pups. As a postdoctoral fellow, I developed powerful techniques for visualizing the activity of neural circuits in awake animals—work that revealed a dynamic interplay between neurons that excite and inhibit each other’s activity. Now, combining these methods with techniques for controlling neuronal activity, we will observe how specific subregions in the mouse brain respond to complex sound features that form the building blocks of mouse calls—and how their activity changes when the sounds are distorted or mistimed. We will then artificially activate the various excitatory and inhibitory networks in these brain regions to assess how this manipulation alters the mouse’s behavioral responses toward the calls. Because people with autism often have difficulty processing complex sounds, this work could lead to the discovery of therapies that might enhance communication in individuals with similar disorders.

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