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Yonehara Group

Yonehara Group - Spatially Asymmetric Neural Circuits in Visual System

The Yonehara group investigates the structure, function and development of neural circuits in the visual system. We are interested in the role of different cell types in neuronal circuits and the genetic and molecular mechanisms of how those circuits are assembled during development. The methods used include two-photon imaging, electrophysiology, optogenetics, trans-synaptic virus, genetic labeling, molecular biology, genomics and behavioral analysis.

Research focus
Our research is based on the central hypothesis that functionally important neuronal circuit motifs are repeatedly used across various brain regions and species, and therefore identifying and understanding the structure and function of such motifs could give insights into the functional organisation of the brain. The mouse visual motion circuits, particularly the retina and its direct brain target the superior colliculus, provides us with an approachable substrate to work towards this goal, given its functionally and genetically well-defined cell types, multi-layered organization and tractable visually-guided behaviors. Two key organising principles that characterize not only the visual motion circuits of mammals and insects, but also other neuronal systems, are 1) parallel processing and 2) asymmetry of neuronal connectivity. We have focused, and will continue to focus, on questions relevant to these organising principles (Yonehara et al., Nature, 2011; Yonehara et al., Neuron, 2013).

The research plan is firstly to identify a computation performed by a given neuronal circuit comprising distinct cell types in the adult brain. Secondly, to investigate how the computation is performed by linking the activity and synaptic connectivity of individual cell types in the circuit to the computation that the circuit achieves. Thirdly, to examine the role of individual cell types in transforming the sensory input into output innate behavior or eye movement control. Finally, to study the genetic mechanisms by which the elementary circuit motifs are assembled, and how its dysfunction can result in disease. Ultimately, by these experiments we aim to link genes to behavior. We will also develop new genetic and viral technologies that facilitate probing circuit function in healthy and diseased systems.

Available projects

The Yonehara group currently has projects available for Postdocs, Master and PhD students. Please contact Group Leader Keisuke Yonehara directly, if interested. See current job announcements here

Left picture: Retinal ganglion cell circuits labeled with trans-synaptic rabies virus (magenta) in a transgenic mouse line in which single type of motion-sensitive ganglion cells is labeled with GFP (green). Right picture: Two-photon image (top view) of GCaMP3-expressing bipolar cell axon terminals and ON DS cell dendrites shown as a heat map (Yonehara et al., Neuron, 2013). Regions of interest are marked by colored lines.


Previous news from the research group


2018.03.07 | People

Giuseppe Balsamo is new ERASMUS student in Yonehara Group

Giuseppe is new ERASMUS student in Keisuke Yonehara's group from March 1st until September 30th. His aim is to understand how the superior colliculus circuits control visually-guided behaviors using viral strategies, immunohistochemistry and behavior.

2018.02.12 | People

Monica Dahlstrup Sietam is now PhD Student in Yonehara Group

Monica has received a PhD fellowship on the amount of DKK 1.575.000 from Lundbeckfonden for her project. Monica was previously Research Assistant in Yonehara Group.

Graphical abstract
Cover image: Mathias Luidor Heltberg and Rune Rasmussen

2017.12.13 | KeisukeYonehara

New publication from Rune Rasmussen in Cell Systems - Chaotic Dynamics Mediates Brain State Transitions, Driven by Changes in Extracellular Ion Concentrations

By extending the Averaged Neuron model to include changes in extracellular ion concentrations, Rasmussen et al. show that transitions between states of sleep and wakefulness are facilitated by ionic changes and governed by chaotic dynamics, which ensure smooth and robust transitions.

2017.12.05 | Awards

Monica Dahlstrup Sietam receives a PhD fellowship on the amount of DKK 1.575.000 from Lundbeckfonden

Monica is currently Research Assistant in Yonehara Group and she is applying to start her PhD project in February 2018. The title of her project is "Genetic mechanisms underlying eye disease". The project will be performed in a close collaboration with Keisuke Yonehara and Hanne Poulsen.

2017.11.27 | People

Ida Kathrine Sneum Tvilling is Laboratory Technician in Yonehara Group until March

Ida Kathrine is Laboratory Technician in Keisuke Yonehara's group from December 4th until March.

2017.10.09 | People

Akihiro Matsumoto is new postdoc in Yonehara Group

Akihiro Matsumoto is new postdoc in Keisuke Yonehara's group from October 1st. He will investigate the circuit basis for visual processing in the retina. Using a combination of electrophysiological recordings, such as whole-cell recordings and multi-electrode array recordings, two-photon imaging and statistical analysis. He…

2017.07.13 | People

Monica Dahlstrup Sietam is new Research Assistant in Yonehara Group

Monica is new Research Assistant in Keisuke Yonehara's group per July 1st. She will study the role of Cre-labeled ganglion cell types in vision-dependent behaviors and central computations using molecular biological, genome engineering, behavioral and electrophysiological approaches.

2017.05.16 | People

Yutaka Shimizu is new postdoc in Yonehara Group

Yutaka started in Keisuke's group per May 15th. He is interested in the molecular mechanism underlying functional motion-sensitive neural network in the retina. He is aiming at elucidating it by combining mouse genetics, molecular biology, behavioral analysis and electrophysiology.

2016.12.06 | Research news

Article by Keisuke Yonehara awarded "Best of Neuron 2016"

Keisuke Yonehara et. al.'s "Congenital Nystagmus Gene FRMD7 Is Necessary for Establishing a Neuronal Circuit Asymmetry for Direction Selectivity" is selected among the best articles in Neuron 2016.

2016.10.03 | Awards

Group Leader Keisuke Yonehara received Swiss OphthAward

Group Leader Keisuke Yonehara, together with Michele Fiscella and Antonia Drinnenberg, received Swiss OphthAward in the category "Best Experimental Work" for his outstanding publication "Congenital Nystagmus Gene FRMD7 Is Necessary for Establishing a Neuronal Circuit Asymmetry for Direction Selectivity".

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