Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Laboratory for Neocortical Development

Team Leader: Carina Hanashima (Ph.D.)
Carina  Hanashima(Ph.D.)

The neocortex, the most complex structure of all vertebrate brain systems, is organized into cytoarchitectonic groups of neurons that process unique sensory inputs, such as pressure, light and sound. This highly ordered structure is nonetheless generated from a relatively simple sheet of neuroepithelium during development. Research in our laboratory aims to understand how these diverse arrays of cortical neurons are specified and coordinated into high-functional territories: 1) What is the mechanism by which diverse cell fate is determined in the neocortex? 2) How are neurons precisely arranged into distinct cortical layers and areas? 3) To what extent does the establishment of functional areas rely on environmental inputs?

Recent work from the laboratory has shown that the fate of neocortical neurons is controlled through cortical intrinsic programs in which neuron fate is established by temporal changes in transcriptional regulatory network. However, in the mature cortex, cortical areas differ in their types and numbers of specific layer neurons along both the anteriorposterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) axes. We are exploring the extent to which intrinsic determinants control the specification of neuronal subtypes within discrete regions of the neocortex, as well as the extrinsic influences that refine the boundaries between functional areas of neocortex. To further these studies, we employ genetic manipulations in mice that will enable conditional loss of gene and cellular functions, recombination-mediated cell-lineage tracing, and systematic approaches to identify novel molecules responsible for modality-specific circuitry formation. Through these studies we wish to understand the mechanistic basis by which unique sensory perceptions and functional circuitries develop in the human neocortex.

Main Research Field

Biological Sciences

Related Research Fields



  • Cerebral cortex
  • Development
  • Cell fate determination
  • Neurogenesis
  • Arealization

Selected Publications

  1. Kumamoto T. and Hanashima C.:
    "Evolutionary conservation and conversion of Foxg1 function in brain development."
    Dev Growth Differ 59. 258-269 (2017)
  2. Toma, K, et al.:
    "Encoding and decoding time in neural development."
    Dev Growth Differ 58.59-72 (2016)
  3. Toma, K. and Hanashima, C.:
    "Switching modes in corticogenesis: mechanisms of neuronal subtype transitions and integration in the cerebral cortex."
    Frontiers in Neuroscience, 9:274 eCollection (2015)
  4. Bullmann, T, et al.:
    "A transportable, inexpensive electroporator for in utero electroporation."
    Dev Growth Differ 57(5): 369-377 (2015)
  5. Toma K, et al.:
    "The timing of upper-layer neurogenesis is conferred by sequential derepression and negative feedback from deep-layer neurons."
    J Neurosci 34.13259-76 (2014)
  6. Kumamoto T. and Hanashima C.:
    "Neuronal subtype specification in establishing mammalian neocortical circuits."
    Neurosci Res 86.37-49 (2014)
  7. Yeh M. L, et al.:
    "Robo1 modulates proliferation and neurogenesis in the developing neocortex."
    J Neurosci 34.5717-31 (2014)
  8. Gonda Y, et al.:
    "Robo1 regulates the migration and laminar distribution of upper-layer pyramidal neurons of the cerebral cortex."
    Cereb Cortex 23:1495-508 (2013)
  9. Kumamoto T, et al.:
    "Foxg1 coordinates the switch from nonradially to radially migrating glutamatergic subtypes in the neocortex through spatiotemporal repression."
    Cell Reports 3. 931-45 (2013)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Carina Hanashima
Team Leader

Core Members

Tien-Cheng Wang
Research Scientist
Pei-shan Hou
Visiting Researcher
Chihiro Nishiyama
Technical Staff I

Contact information

5F, RIKEN CDB Bldg.C, 2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku
Kobe, Hyogo
650-0047 Japan

Email: hanashima [at]

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