Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Brain Science

Laboratory for Circuit and Behavioral Physiology

Laboratory Head: Thomas John Mchugh (Ph.D.)
Thomas John  Mchugh(Ph.D.)

The hippocampus is one of the most well characterized and intensely studied regions of the mammalian brain and an ideal model system to test hypotheses linking memory and neural information representation. My laboratory combines in vivo hippocampal electrophysiology and cutting-edge conditional genetics to address research questions at a high level of precision. Our ability to manipulate plasticity, synaptic transmission or neuronal excitability in a subregion or pathway specific manner and to characterize the consequences of those manipulations on the behavioral and physiological level allows us to study the dynamic routing and use of spatial information in the brain.

Main Research Field


Related Research Fields

Biological Sciences


  • Learning
  • Hippocampus
  • electrophysiology
  • genetics
  • memory

Selected Publications

  1. Boehringer R, Polygalov D, Huang AJY, Middleton SJ, Robert V, Wintzer ME, Piskorowski RA, Chevaleyre V, McHugh TJ.
    "Chronic loss of CA2 transmission leads to hippocampal hyperexcitability."
    Neuron, 94(3):642-655. (2017)
  2. Middleton SJ and McHugh TJ
    "Silencing CA3 disrupts temporal coding in the CA1 Ensemble."
    Nature Neuroscience, 19(7): 945-951 (2016)
  3. Miyamoto D, Hirai D, Fung CCA, Inutsuka A, Odagawa M, Suzuki T, Boehringer R, Adaikkan C, Matsubara C, Matsuki N, Fukai T, McHugh TJ, Yamanaka A, Murayama M.
    "Top-Down Cortical Input during NREM Sleep Consolidates Perceptual Memory."
    Science, 352(6291): 1315-1318. (2016)
  4. Yu LMY, Polygalov D, Wintzer ME, Chiang MC, McHugh TJ.
    "CA3 synaptic silencing attenuates kainic acid induced seizures and hippocampal network oscillations."
    eNeuro, 3(1), /ENEURO.0003-16.2016 (2016)
  5. Tomar, A., Polygalov, D., Chattarji, S., and McHugh TJ.:
    "The dynamic impact of repeated stress on the hippocampal spatial map."
    Hippocampus 25(1): 38-50 (2015)
  6. Chinnakkaruppan, A., Wintzer, M.E., McHugh, T.J*., and Rosenblum, K.*:
    "Differential contribution of hippocampal subfields to components of associative taste learning."
    J. Neurosci. 34(33):11007-15 (2014) * Co-senior authors.
  7. Wintzer, M.E., Boehringer, R., Polygalov, D., and McHugh, T.J.:
    "The hippocampal CA2 ensemble is sensitive to contextual change."
    J Neurosci. 34(8):3056-66 (2014)
  8. Nakashiba, T., Cushman, J.D., Pelkey, K.A,, Renaudineau. S., Buhl, D.L., McHugh, T.J., Barrera, V.R., Chittajallu, R., Iwamoto, K.S., McBain, C.J., Fanselow, M.S., and Tonegawa, S.:
    "Young Dentate Granule Cells Mediate Pattern Separation, whereas Old Granule Cells Facilitate Pattern Completion."
    Cell, 149(1): 188-201 (2012)
  9. Nakashiba, T.*, Buhl, D.L.*, McHugh, T.J. *, and Tonegawa, S.:
    "Hippocampal CA3 Output is Crucial for Ripple-Associated Reactivation and Consolidation of Memory."
    Neuron, 62, 781-787(2009) * These authors contributed equally.
  10. McHugh, T.J.*, Jones, M.W.*, Quinn, J.J., Balthasar, N., Coppari, R., Elmquist, J.K., Lowell, B.B., Fanselow, M.S., Wilson, M.A., and Tonegawa, S.:
    "Dentate gyrus NMDA receptors mediate rapid pattern separation in the hippocampal network."
    Science. 317(5834):94-9 (2007) * These authors contributed equally.

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Thomas John Mchugh
Laboratory Head

Core Members

Steven James Middleton
Research Scientist
Shuo Chen
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Kazumasa Tanaka
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Ming-Ching Chiang
Junior Research Associate
Arthur Jyh-Yen Huang
Technical Staff I
Roman Boehringer
Technical Staff I
Marie Wintzer
Technical Staff II
Michiko Fujisawa