Research Activities

    The Department of Neuropsychopharmacology carries out research into problems concerning the various psychiatric disorders in the rapidly aging society of Japan. Especially, depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and suicide are focused in the department. Our mission is to advance the understanding of the pathophysiology of these psychiatric disorders. This department also endeavors to develop evidence-based diagnosis, clinical guidelines, and therapeutic medical/social interventions.


[The orbitofrontal Cortex and stress]
Kuniishi H, et al. Stress induces insertion of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors in the OFC–BLA synapse and modulates emotional behaviours in mice. Translational Psychiatry 10: 154, 2020.
The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is involved in emotional processing, and orbitofrontal abnormalities have often been observed in various affective disorders. Thus, chronic dysfunction of the OFC may cause symptoms of affective disorders, such as anxiety, depression and impulsivity. Previous studies have investigated the effect of orbitofrontal dysfunction on anxiety-like behavior and impulsive aggression in rodents, but the results are inconsistent possibly reflecting different methods of OFC inactivation. Therefore, we are currently investigating the roles of the OFC in the pathophisiology of psychiatric disorders using optogenetic and chemogenetic approaches.

[AUTS2 regulates development of social communication]
Hori K, et al. AUTS2 regulation of synapses for proper synaptic inputs and social communication. iScience 23: 101183, 2020.
•AUTS2 regulates excitatory synapse number in forebrain pyramidal neurons.
•Loss of Auts2 leads to increased spine formation in development and adulthood.
•Loss of Auts2 alters the balance of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs.
•Auts2 mutant mice exhibit cognitive and sociobehavioral deficits.

[DEPRESSD Project (PI: Prof. Brett D. Thombs @ McGill university)]
Levis B, et al. for the Depression Screening Data (DEPRESSD) PHQ Collaboration. Accuracy of the PHQ-2 Alone and in Combination With the PHQ-9 for Screening to Detect Major Depression Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, 323(22):2290-2300, 2020.
Question: What is the accuracy of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)–2 alone and in combination with the PHQ-9 for screening for depression?
Findings: In an individual participant data meta-analysis that included 10 627 participants from 44 studies with semistructured diagnostic interviews, the combination of PHQ-2 (with cutoff ≥2) followed by PHQ-9 (with cutoff ≥10) had a sensitivity of 0.82, specificity of 0.87, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.90.
Meaning: PHQ-2 followed by PHQ-9 may provide acceptable accuracy for screening for depression.

[The HOPE program standards (in English)]
We publish The HOPE program standards in English, which guide the HOPE program start-up, practical implementation, and program monitoring by clearly defining the minimum requirements. Successful HOPE model implementation and demonstrated improvements in patient outcomes are best accomplished by close adherence to the HOPE program standards.


Dr. Masayuki Sekiguchi (Dept. Degenerative Neurological Diseases, NIN) has just joined our research group.
Ms. Mami Terao from Senshu University has just joined our research group.
Ms. Yuko Nakatake from Tokyo University of Science has just joined our research group.
Dr. Momoko Kobayashi has just joined our research group as a research fellow.
A position for a Post-Doc fellow is now closed. For inquiry, please contact us by an e-mail to [].
Dr. Hideki Miwa has just joined our research group as a section chief (Section of Molecular Pharmacology).
Dr. Hiroki Furuie has just joined our research group (Section of Drug Development).

last update 2020.7.1