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RIKEN Center for Brain Science Laboratory for Circuit and Behavioral Physiology

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

Research Summary

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 Fields

  • Biology

Related Research Fields

  • Biological Sciences


  • Learning
  • Hippocampus
  • electrophysiology
  • genetics
  • memory

Selected Publications

  • 1.Kazumasa Z. Tanaka, Hongshen He, Anupratap Tomar, Kazue Niisato, Arthur J. Y. Huang, Thomas J. McHugh.:
    "The hippocampal engram maps experience but not place"
    Science, Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 392-397, 27 July 2018, DOI: 10.1126/science.aat5397
  • 2.Steven J. Middleton, Emily M. Kneller, Shuo Chen, Ikuo Ogiwara, Mauricio Montal, Kazuhiro Yamakawa and Thomas J. McHugh.:
    "Altered hippocampal replay is associated with memory impairment in mice heterozygous for the Scn2a gene"
    Nature Neuroscience, 04 June 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41593-018-0163-8
  • 3.Shuo Chen, Adam Z. Weitemier, Xiao Zeng, Linmeng He, Xiyu Wang, Yanqiu Tao, Arthur J. Y. Huang, Yuki Hashimotodani, Masanobu Kano, Hirohide Iwasaki, Laxmi Kumar Parajuli, Shigeo Okabe, Daniel B. Loong Teh, Angelo H. All, Iku Tsutsui-Kimura, Kenji F. Tanaka, Xiaogang Liu, Thomas J. McHugh.:
    "Near-infrared deep brain stimulation via upconversion nanoparticle-mediated optogenetics"
    Science, Vol. 359, Issue 6376, pp. 679-684, 9 February 2018, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq1144
  • 4.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), DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.014
  • 5.Middleton SJ and McHugh TJ.:
    "Silencing CA3 disrupts temporal coding in the CA1 Ensemble."
    Nature Neuroscience, 19(7): 945-951 (2016), DOI: 10.1038/nn.4311
  • 6.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), DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0902
  • 7.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) (2016), DOI:10.1523/ENEURO.0003-16.2016
  • 8.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., DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0956-14.2014
  • 9.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), DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2563-13.2014
  • 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., DOI: 10.1126/science.1140263

Recent Research Results

Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Thomas John Mchugh
Laboratory Head

Core members

Steven James Middleton
Research Scientist
Kazumasa Tanaka
Special Postdoctoral Researcher
Arthur Jyh-Yen Huang
Technical Staff I


Position Deadline
Administrative Part-time Worker Ⅱ(W24018) Open until filled
Seeking a Technical Staff Ⅱ(W23275) Open until filled

Contact Information

2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan
Email: thomas.mchugh [at] riken.jp