Professor Hiroyuki Ito

Area and Subject Taught Neuroscience
Research Theme(s) Physiological and Theoretical Research on Visual Information Processing in the Brain
Academic Degrees Doctor of Science, University of Tokyo
Keywords for Research Field Brain, Neuroscience, Vision, Visual Information Processing
Office Phone Number 81-75-705-1912

Research Overview

I am researching how it is that we can "see things." In our daily lives, we can immediately understand what an object is simply by turning our eyes to it, so it may seem that no research is necessary. However, it is known that the neurons in our eyes and brain (visual cortex) can only respond to extremely simple features (i.e., partial line segments and their inclination). The algorithm by which these simple visual clues are integrated to achieve high-level perception is completely unknown. We aim to clarify the mysteries of vision by combining two parallel approaches-first, the physiological approach of recording the activity of actual neurons, and second, a mathematical approach using computer simulations based on mathematical models of the brain. For example, consider the diagram right. It has three black circles with notches, and three V-shaped lines. However, you can clearly see a large white triangle which "covers" the notches in the black circles. This is a famous optical illusion called the Kanizsa Triangle. By uncovering the reason why we see a triangle which is not actually there, we can understand part of the information processing mechanism called "seeing an object."

Notable Publications and Works in the Last Three Years

  1. Y. Maruyama and H.Ito: Diversity, heterogeneity and orientation-dependent variation of spike count correlation in the cat visual cortex. Eur. J. Neurosci. 38, 3611-3627 (2013).
  2. H. Ito, PE. Maldonado and CM. Gray:Dynamics of stimulus-evoked spike timing correlations in the cat lateral geniculate nucleus. J. Neurophysiol. 104, 3276-3292(2010).