News Releases & Research Results Optical manipulation of neurons successfully evoking forelimb movements in monkeys

News Releases & Research Results


The results of collaborative research conducted by Professor Atsushi Nambu of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences; Former Professor Hajime Mushiake of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine; and others.

The key results of research are as follows:

  • By improving the technique to introduce the light-activated substance channelrhodopsin into genes as well as the light irradiation method, the research group became the first in the world to succeed in evoking forelimb movements in monkeys using optogenetics*.
    *A technique to express light-activated substances in cells to regulate the cell function by light. While this technique has been widely used in research using mice and the like, few successful cases have been reported from research using primates which are close to humans, and it has been used only in research on limited topics such as eye movement.
  • The results of this research should facilitate the utilization of optogenetics in non-human primates, and should be applied in the future to light-based deep brain stimulation (DBS) and other treatments of diseases in humans.

This research project was conducted with the support of the Brain Mapping by Integrated Neurotechnologies for Disease Studies (Brain/MINDS) and the Strategic International Brain Science Research Promotion Program (Brain/MINDS Beyond) by AMED.

The results of this research were published in Nature Communications on June 26.


Watanabe H., et al. Forelimb movements evoked by optogenetic stimulation of the macaque motor cortex Nature Communications
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16883-5


Last updated 06/26/20