Centers & Labs

RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Laboratory for Sensory Circuit Formation

Team Leader: Takeshi Imai (Ph.D.)
Takeshi  Imai(Ph.D.)

The mammalian central nervous system is composed of enormous numbers of neurons. How do these neurons establish their identity and form functional neuronal circuitries? To address this question, we are studying the mouse olfactory system as a model system. In the mouse olfactory system, odorants are detected by ~1,000 types of olfactory sensory neurons, each expressing a single type of odorant receptor. The olfactory bulb, the primary olfactory area of the brain, receives inputs from olfactory sensory neurons through 1,000 sets of glomeruli. These inputs are then processed in the olfactory bulb circuits and are then sent out to the olfactory cortex. These complex neuronal circuits emerge in an autonomous fashion based on cell-cell interactions and neuronal activity after birth, rather than by strict genetic programs. Using the olfactory bulb as a model system, we are trying to understand simple rules behind the formation of complex neuronal circuitry.

Main Research Field

Biological Sciences

Related Research Fields



  • Neural Development
  • Olfaction
  • Connectomics
  • Neuronal Circuit

Selected Publications

  1. Murai A., et al.:
    "Distorted coarse axon targeting and reduced dendrite connectivity underlie dysosmia after olfactory axon injury."
    eNeuro 3.e0242-16 (2016)
  2. Ke M. T., et al.:
    "Super-resolution mapping of neuronal circuitry with an index-optimized clearing agent."
    Cell Rep 14.2718-2732 (2016)
  3. Imai T.:
    "Construction of functional neuronal circuitry in the olfactory bulb."
    Semin Cell Dev Biol 35C.180-88 (2014)
  4. Nakashima A, et al.:
    "Agonist-independent GPCR activity regulates anterior-posterior targeting of olfactory sensory neurons."
    Cell 154.1314-25 (2013)
  5. Ke M. T, et al.:
    "SeeDB: a simple and morphology-preserving optical clearing agent for neuronal circuit reconstruction."
    Nat Neurosci 16.1154-61 (2013)

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Takeshi Imai
Team Leader

Core Members

Meng-Tsen Ke
Research Scientist
Ryo Iwata
Visiting Researcher

Contact information

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

Email: imai [at]

Related links

Recent research results

December 7, 2017: Press Release
What’s that smell? The advantage of sniffing
March 11, 2016: Press Release
Super-clear synapses at super resolutions