Dr. Takahata received his Ph.D. for basic biology from The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), Okazaki, Japan in 2005. During the Ph.D. program, he studied characteristic gene expressions in primate cerebral cortex, mentored by Prof. Tetsuo Yamamori. He extended his research in the corresponding laboratory in the National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan until he joined the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. He engaged studies in comparative neuroanatomy there for his postdoctoral projects with Drs. Jon H. Kaas and Troy A. Hackett. He joined ZIINT as a faculty staff in November, 2014. His goal is to comprehend evolutionary history and development of primate brains at the molecular level.
What is the fundamental difference between primate brains and rodent brains, which enables primates' highly cognitive functions? Whereas subcortical and cerebellar structures are well-conserved in rodents and primates, the cerebral cortex is distinct in primates in terms of size and complexity. Although there are tons of literature that describe anatomical and physiological differences across species, molecular basis of those differences remains elusive. We have revealed distinct gene expression patterns in the cerebral cortex that are unique in primate species. We will study what regulates expressions of these genes, and what their functional significance is. We will also examine novel neuroanatomical structures of the primate cerebral cortex through investigation of activity-dependent gene expression, such as ocular dominance domains in New World monkeys and rats. Overall, we will propose novel models of primate brain evolution that connects the molecular and neuroanatomical/physiological studies.