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Akira Sakurai

Rsch Scientist II    

For more than 20 years of research experience in invertebrate nervous systems. I am interested in how the nervous system generates species-specific behaviors through precise configuration of neural networks. Specifically, I have been studying inter-individual variations within a species and inter-species differences in neural mechanisms underlying the swim behaviors of sea slugs. I have been interested in regulatory mechanisms and function of simple neuronal circuits. My first research training started as an undergraduate thesis project in 1992 at University of Tsukuba, Japan. I studied the physiological action of the cardioregulatory neurons onto the heartbeat of an isopod crustacean. My first post-doc study started in 1998 at University of Calgary. I studied the mechanosensitivities of pacemaker neurons in the crustacean heart. In 2000, I became a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and studied the development of the cardioregulatory projection in crustacean embryo at Tokyo Metropolitan University. In the same year I moved to Tokyo Medical and Dental University as Research Assistant Professor and joined the research on the central mechanism of masticatory rhythm generation in rodents until I moved to GSU in July, 2001.


Representative Publications

Sakurai A, Tamvacakis AN, Katz PS. (2016) Recruitment of polysynaptic connections underlies functional recovery of a neural circuit after lesion. eNeuro 3(4). pii: ENEURO.0056-16.2016. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0056-16.2016

Sakurai A, Katz PS (2016) The central pattern generator underlying swimming in Dendronotus iris: a simple half-center network oscillator with a twist. J Neurophysiol 116(4): 1728-1742. doi: 10.1152/jn.00150.2016

Sakurai A, Katz PS (2015) Phylogenetic and individual variation in gastropod central pattern generators. (Review) J Comp Physiol A 201(9): 829-839. doi: 10.1007/s00359-015-1007-6

Sakurai A, Gunaratne CA, and Katz PS (2014) Two interconnected kernels of reciprocally inhibitory interneurons underlie alternating left-right swim motor pattern generation in the mollusk Melibe leonina. J Neurophysiol 112(6): 1317-1328. doi: 10.1152/jn.00261.2014

Sakurai A, Tamvacakis AN, and Katz PS (2014) Hidden synaptic differences in a neural circuit underlie differential behavioral susceptibility to a neural injury. eLife 3, 202598. doi:

Sakurai A, Newcomb JM, Lillvis JL, and Katz PS (2011) Different roles for homologous interneurons in species exhibiting similar rhythmic behaviors. Curr Biol 21: 1036-1043.

Sakurai A and Katz PS (2009) Functional recovery after lesion of a central pattern generator. J Neurosci 29: 13115-13125.

Sakurai A and Katz PS (2009) State-, timing-, and pattern-dependent neuromodulation of synaptic strength by a serotonergic interneuron. J Neusosci 29: 268-279.

Find Akira Sakurai’s Publications on PubMed