Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences
Tohoku University


Tomomi Tsunematsu

Tomomi Tsunematsu

Assistant ProfessorLife and EnvironmentsConcurrent post to Graduate School of Life Science

Research Fields Sleep research, Electrophysiology
Research Subjects
  • Elucidation of a regulatory mechanism of sleep/wakefulness
  • Elucidation of a physiological function of sleep
Academic Society Membership Japanese Society of Sleep Research, The Japan Neuroscience Society, Physiological Society of Japan, The Japanese Pharmacological Society, Society for Neuroscience
Research Outline  

Sleep is one of the instinctive behavior. Mammals have two stages of sleep, i.e., rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep, which show completely different brain activities. Although no one can live without sleep, physiological function of sleep is one of the mystery-shrouded issue in the field of brain science so far. To investigate this, I have started to elucidate the regulatory mechanism of sleep/wakefulness using mice.

First, I introduced optogenetics technique to identify the neural network which regulates sleep/wakefulness. Optogenetics enables us to manipulate specific type of neural activity at high temporal resolution (See figure). Using this, I have revealed that inhibition of orexin neural activities in lateral hypothalamus induces the transition from wakefulness to non-REM sleep. In addition, activation of melanin-concentrating hormone neural activities can cause transition from non-REM sleep to REM sleep (Tsunematsu et al., J Neurosci 2011 and 2014).

Next, I recorded multiple neural activities from pons, cortex and hippocampus using silicon probe with 32 channels in unanesthetized mice. I focused on information processing during non-REM sleep and REM sleep, especially the relationship firing pattern and synchronization of neural activities.

With various experimental techniques I have learnt and knowledge I have gained in the past, I am excited to further explore, and thus unravel the mystery of sleep.

Related Posts