BDR researchers coming from diverse research fields are working together to achieve higher goals.

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Careers & Study

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About Us

About Us

Exploring the scientific foundations of life through interdisciplinary approaches to address society’s problems.

Photo of Team leder, Atsushi Iriki

Team Leader
Atsushi Iriki D.D.S., Ph.D., D.M.Sc.

Laboratory for Symbolic Cognitive Development

LocationKobe / MI R&D Center Building


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We aim to find out evolutionary and neurobiological mechanisms that lead human mind to emerge in the primate brain to subserve modern civilized societies.

We aim to find out evolutionary and neurobiological mechanisms that lead human mind to emerge in the primate brain that subserves our modern civilized societies. Utilizing cutting-edge molecular genetic, functional imaging, and complexity mathematics technologies, we will pursuit fundamental principles of how the human mind emerges through interactions of biological matters, and try to develop and implement quantitative evaluation methods for the length of its dynamical transitions from earlylife through aging processes, both in human and non-human primates, that should eventually contribute to foster human healthy and sound societies.

Concretely, we try to uncover evolutionary precursors of human higher cognitive functions grounded onto bodily morphologies and patterns of structured physical actions, based on behavioral and neurophysiological analyses on non-human primates, which were trained to use tools and other hightech apparatuses. Further, we will elucidate neurobiological mechanisms of evolutionary aswell as developmental processes that give rise to human symbolic cognitive functions subserving inference, language, metaphysical thoughts, sef-consciousness, etc. that characterize human intelligence, which will be considered through the viewpoint of “mind-body interactions”, by reexamining the dynamical functional networks among brain and multiple internal organs, and immune systems in particular.

We also attempt to identify “gut-brain axis” contributing to regulatory mechanisms of early-life behavioral development of non-human primates in the wild-life habitat that using tools for foraging, to understand the functional relationships among mind, body and environment, through which we eventually try to establish methods to quantify its life-long transitionfor objective evaluation of dynamical social interaction mechanisms subserving such phenomena.

Research Theme

  • Dynamical analyses of interactions among brain and multiple internal organ networks under the view of mind-body interactions.
  • Mechanisms of primate brain evolution through the theory of "Triadic Niche-Construction" (interactions among brain, cognitive behavior, and environment).
  • Principle of higher mental functions including self-consciousness to be elucidated through functional and structural brain imaging.

Selected Publications

Iriki A, Suzuki H, Tanaka S, et al.
The sapient paradox and the great journey: Insights from cognitive psychology, neurobiology and phenomenology.
Psychologia (2021) doi: 10.2117/psysoc.2021-B017

Tia B, Takemi M, Kosuge A, et al.
Spectral power and phase-amplitude coupling in marmoset frontal motor cortex during natural locomotor behavior.
Cerebral Cortex 31, 1077-1089 (2021) doi: 10.3390/brainsci11020157

Bretas RV, Taoka M, Hihara S, et al.
Neural evidence of mirror self-recognition in the secondary somatosensory cortex of macaque: observations from a single-cell recording experiment and implications for consciousness
Brain Sciences 11(2), 157 (2021) doi: 10.3390/brainsci11020157

Bretas RV, Taoka M, Suzuki H, et al.
Secondary somatosensory cortex of primates: Beyond body maps, towards conscious “self-in-the-world” map.
Experimental Brain Research 238, 259-272 (2020) doi: 10.1007/s00221-020-05727-9

Gumert MD, Tan A, Luncz L, et al.
Prevalence of tool behaviouris associated with pelage phenotype in intraspecific hybrid long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aureax M. f. fascicularis).
Behavior 156, 1083-1125 (2019) doi: 10.1163/1568539X-00003557

Kato M, Yokoyama C, Kawasaki A, et al.
Individual identity and affective valence in marmoset calls: in vivo brain imaging with vocal soundplayback
Animal Cognition 21, 331-343 (2018) doi: 10.1007/s10071-018-1169-z

Yamazaki Y, Kawarai S, Morita H, et al.
Faecal transplantation for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection in a marmoset.
BMC Veterinary Research 13, 150 (2017) doi: 10.1186/s12917-017-1070-z

Hihara S, Taoka M, Tanaka M, Iriki A.
Visual responsiveness of the neurons in secondary somatosensory area and its surrounding parietal opperculum regions of awake macaque monkeys.
Cerebral Cortex 25, 4535-4550 (2015) doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv095

Hashimoto T, Kitajo K, Kajihara T, et al.
Neural correlates of electrointestinography: insular activity modulated by signals recorded from the abdominal surface.
Neuroscience 289, 1-8 (2015) doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.12.057

Iriki A, Taoka M.
Triadic (ecological, neural, cognitive) niche construction: a scenario of human brain evolution extrapolating tool use and language from the control of reaching actions.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Science 367, 10-23 (2012) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0190


Atsushi Iriki

Team Leader

Yumiko Yamazaki

Deputy Team Leader

Rafael Bretas Vieira

Research Scientist

Banty Tia

Research Scientist

Yoko Tomonaga

Technical Staff I

Mitsuyo Nobukawa