Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: uchida@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-495-2335

Mail: BL 4007
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Uchida Lab Website
Members of the Uchida Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 145. Neurobiology of Perception and Decision Making
Catalog Number: 6972  View Course Website
Term: [Fall Term .]
Instructor: Naoshige Uchida
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: One of the current goals of neuroscience is to understand neuronal circuits underlying perception and behavior. Recent advances in neuroscience have allowed us to glimpse neuronal processes that link perception and decision making. How is sensory information processed in the brain? How does an animal choose its action? How does an animal learn from ever-changing environments and adjust their behavior? The course will examine neurophysiological studies in perception and decision-making.
Prerequisite(s): MCB 80 and permission of the instructor.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 10-11:30
MCB 368. Neural Circuits for Sensation and Behavior
Catalog Number: 30878  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Naoshige Uchida
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
BIOPHYS 310. Sensory Information in Neuronal Processes
Catalog Number: 6651  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Naoshige Uchida
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
NEUROBIO 378. Neuronal Mechanisms and Animal Behavior
Catalog Number: 9659  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Naoshige Uchida
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
(View all MCB Courses)


The ability of efficiently acquiring sensory information and selecting an appropriate action is the essence of flexible behaviors. To make good decisions, it is also crucial to evaluate the consequences of previous actions (gains and costs) and adjust strategies for future decisions. Our laboratory is interested in neuronal processes by which sensory information and memory about previous experiences guide behavior of the animal. Our main questions are:

  1. How is odor information coded and processed by an ensemble of neurons?
  2. What kinds of circuit dynamics underlie decision-making processes?
  3. What are the mechanisms for learning based on rewards and punishments?

We have developed an odor-guided perceptual decision task in rats and mice. This behavioral paradigm was recently combined with a multi-electrode recording technique (tetrodes) which allows us to monitor activity of multiple neurons simultaneously while animals are performing a behavioral task. Particular emphasis will be made on the use of behavior. First, behavioral paradigms specify computations (e.g. extracting relevant information in the sensory stimulus) and behavioral goals (e.g. maximizing rewards in a certain period) to be achieved. This in turn guides the way neuronal activities are analyzed. Furthermore, behavioral experiments are necessary to test relevance of certain activity of neurons or hypothesis about "neural codes" obtained in neuronal recordings. We will use various molecular and genetic tools available in mice to further test specific hypotheses experimentally. By combining the above approaches, we wish to establish a causal link between activity of specific neuronal circuits and the dynamics of behavior and learning.


Tian, J., Huang, R., Cohen, JY., Osakada, F., Kobak, D., Machens, C., Callaway, EM., Uchida, N., Watabe-Uchida, M. (2016) Distributed and mixed information in monosynaptic inputs to dopamine neurons. Neuron, 91: 1374–1389.
Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Neurosci.

Eshel, N., Tian, J., Bukwich, M. and Uchida, N. (2016) Dopamine neurons share common response function for reward prediction error. Nature Neurosci. (News and Views), 19(3):479-86.
News & Views

Tian, J., and Uchida, N. (2015) Habenula lesions reveal that multiple mechanisms underlie dopamine prediction errors. Neuron, 87(6):1304-16.

Eshel, N., Bukwich, M., Rao, V., Hemmelder, V., Tian, J. and Uchida, N. (2015) Arithmetic and local circuitry underlying dopamine prediction errors. Nature, 525(7568):243-6.  |  MCB News

Menegas, W., Bergan, J.F., Ogawa, S.K., Isogai, Y., Venkataraju, K.U., Osten, P., Uchida, N., and Watabe-Uchida, M. (2015) Dopamine neurons projecting to the posterior striatum form an anatomically distinct subclass. eLife; 10.7554/eLife.10032.  |  MCB News  |  Insight: Dopamine system: Mapping neural circuits with CLARITY

Cohen JY, Amoroso MW, Uchida, N. (2015) Serotonergic neurons signal reward and punishment on multiple timescales. eLife, Feb 25;4:e06346.  |  MCB News  |  Insights

Ogawa, SK., Cohen, JY., Hwang, D., Uchida, N., Watabe-Uchida, M. (2014) Organization of Monosynaptic Inputs to the Serotonin and Dopamine Neuromodulatory Systems. Cell Rep, 21;8(4):1105-18.  |  MCB News  |  Perspective

Uchida, N., Poo, C., Haddad, R. (2014) Coding and transformations in the olfactory system. Annu Rev Neurosci., 37:363–85.

Krashes, M. J., Shah, B. P., Madara, JC, Olson, D. P., Strochlic, D. E., Garfield, A. S., Vong, L., Pei, H., Watabe-Uchida, M., Uchida, N., Liberles, S. D., Lowell, B. B., (2014) An excitatory paraventricular nucleus to AgRP neuron circuit that drives hunger. Nature, 13; 507(7491):238-42.

Haddad, R., Lanjuin, A., Madisen, L., Zeng, H., Murthy, VN., and Uchida, N. (2013) Olfactory cortical neurons read out a relative time code in the olfactory bulb. Nature Neurosci.  |  16: 949-57. MCB News  |  Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Research Highlight

Wang, A.Y., Miura, K., Uchida N. (2013) The dorsomedial striatum encodes net expected return, critical for energizing performance vigor. Nature Neurosci.  |  MCB News  |  Harvard Gazette  |  Harvard Crimson

Zariwala, H.A., Kepecs, A., Uchida N., Hirokawa, J. and Mainen, Z.F. (2013) The Limits of Deliberation in a Perceptual Decision Task. Neuron.

Miura K, Mainen ZF, Uchida N. (2012) Odor representations in olfactory cortex: distributed rate coding and decorrelated population activity. Neuron. 74(6):1087-98.  |  Video Abstract  |  MCB News

Watabe-Uchida M, Zhu L, Ogawa SK, Vamanrao A, Uchida N. (2012) Whole-brain mapping of direct inputs to midbrain dopamine neurons. Neuron. 74(5):858-73.  |  Harvard Gazette  |  MCB News

Cohen, J.Y., Haesler, S., Vong, L., Lowell, B.B., and Uchida, N. (2012) Neuron-type-specific signals for reward and punishment in the ventral tegmental area. Nature, 482(7383):85-88.  |  pubmed  |  Nature's Action Potential Blog  |  Neuropod  |  Harvard Gazette  |  MCB News

Szuts, T.,Fadeyev, V.,Kachiguine, S.,Sher, A.,Grivich, M.,Agrochão, M.,Hottowy, P.,Dabrowski, W.,Lubenov, E.,Siapas, A.,Uchida, N.,Litke, A.,Meister, M. (2011) A wireless multi-channel neural amplifier for freely moving animals. Nature neuroscience, 14(2): 263-9.  |  MCB News

Cury, K.,Uchida, N. (2010) Robust odor coding via inhalation-coupled transient activity in the mammalian olfactory bulb. Neuron, 68(3): 570-85.  |  MCB News

Kepecs, A., Uchida, N., Zariwala, H. and Mainen Z. F. (2008) Neural correlates, computation and behavioural impact of decision confidence. Nature, 455:227-31

Uchida, N., Kepecs, A., and Mainen, Z. F. (2006) Seeing at a glance, smelling in a whiff: rapid forms of perceptual decision-making. Nature Rev. Neurosci,. 7:485-491.

Uchida, N., and Mainen, Z. F. (2003) Speed and accuracy of olfactory discrimination in the rat. Nature Neurosci. 6: 1224-1229.

Uchida, N., Takahashi, Y.K., Tanifuji, M. and Mori, K. (2000) Odor maps in the mammalian olfactory bulb: domain organization and odorant structural features. Nature Neurosci. 3: 1035-1043.

Uchida, N., Honjo, Y., Jones, K. Weelock, M.J. and Takeichi, M. (1996) Cadherin/catenin-adhesion system is localized in synaptic junctions, bordering the transmitter release zones. J. Cell Biol. 135, 767-779.

updated: 10/07/2016