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Research


The primary research focus of the Mizumori laboratory has been to understand the neural mechanism of natural and adaptive behaviors. The model under study has been spatial navigation as it is a behavior that is fundamental for an animal’s survival. Thus, dysfunction of key elements of the underlying neural circuitry could lead to disastrous consequences, as is evident in disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, substance abuse, and schizophrenia.

Cluster analysis of single neuron recordings from the ventral tegmental area.Understanding  the neural mechanism of successful navigation involves the investigation of accurate and experience-dependent sensory processing (e.g. Cooper, Miya & Mizumori, 1998; Cooper, Manka, & Mizumori, 2001; Mizumori & Smith, 2006), appropriate regulation of motivational states and outcome evaluation (e.g. Gill & Mizumori, 2008; Puryear & Mizumori, 2009; Kim, Mizumori, & Bernstein, 2010; Mizumori, Yeshenko, Gill, & Davis, 2004; Puryear, Kim & Mizumori 2010), and flexible response selection (e.g. Mizumori, Pratt, Cooper & Guazzelli , 2002; Ragazzino, Ragozzino, Mizumori, & Kesner, 2002; Mizumori, Yeshenko, Gill, & Davis, 2004; Yeshenko, Guazzelli, & Mizumori, 2004; Mizumori, Puryear, Gill, & Guazzelli, 2005).  All of these factors likely determine critical decisions that are made during navigation (e.g. Mizumori, Cooper, Leutgeb, & Pratt, 2000; Mizumori, Yeshenko, Gill, & Davis, 2004; Mizumori, Smith, & Puryear, 2007; Gill & Mizumori, 2008).  Current research investigates the latter hypothesis by studying the modulatory effect of the midbrain dopamine system on context-dependent neural representation, spatial behaviors, and decisions that animals make during active navigation through novel and familiar environments.