Exploring basic design of insect microbrains

MIZUNAMI, MakotoProfessor

Behavioral Neurobiology
Revealing Adaptive Design of Insect “Microbrains”
The goal of our study is to elucidate elution of brain and behavior of animals, by using insects as model animals. To achieve this goal, we are studying the mechanisms of Pavlovian learning in insects and examining how they differ from, or analogous to, those of mammals, including humans.
Brain and behavior of insects
Learning and memory
Brain evolution

The goal of our laboratory is to reveal the functional design of insect brain, which we have termed “microbrains”. To achieve this goal, we are studying molecular, cellular and neuron-network mechanisms of visual and olfactory learning in insects. One of our research focuses is the role of the mushroom body, an association center of the insect brain, in various forms of learning.

We are also studying the roles of the octopaminergic reward system and dopaminergic punishment system in olfactory and visual learning in crickets, and we are revealing that sophisticated information processing, often called “cognitive” process, underlies learning in insects.

For more details, visit our website:


The goal of our study to open a new field of evolutionary neurobiology. Students and young researchers interested in the brain, behavior and evolution are most welcome to our laboratory.


  • Watanabe H., Matsumoto S.C., Nishino H. and Mizunami M. (2011) Critical roles of mecamylamine-sensitive mushroom body neurons in insect olfactory learning. Neurobiol. Learn. Mem. 95:1-13.
  • Yamagata N. and Mizunami M. (2010) Spatial representation of alarm pheromone information in a secondary olfactory center in the ant brain. Proc. R. Soc. B.277: 2465-2475.
  • Mizunami M., Matsumoto Y. (2010) Roles of aminergic neurons in formation and recall of associative memory in crickets. Frontiers Behav. Neurosci. 4, 172.
  • Mizunami M., Yamagata N. and Nishino H. (2010) Alarm pheromone processing in the ant brain: an evolutionary perspective. Frontiers Behav. Neurosci. 4, 28
  • Mizunami M., Unoki S., Mori Y., Hirashima D., Hatano A., and Matsumoto Y. (2009) Roles of octopaminergic and dopaminergic neurons in appetitive and aversive memory recall in an insect. BMC Biology 7:46.

水波 誠 研究室


Faculty of Science
Department of Biological Sciences
Behavioral Neurobiology

Grad School

Graduate School of Life Science
Division of Life Science
Biosystems Science Course

Contact Information

Faculty of Science, Building #5 5-911
Email: mizunami [atmark] sci.hokudai.ac.jp

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