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I received my Ph.D. from Kyoto University in Japan, where I established my background as a synaptic physiologist. I studied mechanisms of synaptic transmission and plasticity in a giant glutamatergic synapse, called the calyx of Held, in a rat auditory brainstem.
The experience in synaptic physiology motivated me to link these synaptic events to higher-order sensory processing and ultimately to the animal’s behavior. To achieve this long-term goal, I decided to switch to a much simpler nervous system. I joined Dr. Glenn Turner’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (now in Janelia) as a postdoc and started working on the olfactory circuit of Drosophila. Although there had been a long history of research in associative olfactory learning in Drosophila, it was still early days for neurophysiological studies. I started by characterizing the transformation of olfactory coding in the brain area called mushroom body (Hige et al., Nature), which is known as a learning center of insects. Later, I also demonstrated the first long-term synaptic plasticity that underlies learning and memory in this system (Hige et al., Neuron). I recently summarized these findings in a review article.
I am starting my own lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in January, 2018. I am currently seeking an enthusiastic postdoc who has a coherent research interest with me. For more information, please visit my lab website!