Hiroyuki Kato, Ph.D.
ASD Researchers at UNC
Assistant Professor/Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Kato is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. His primary research goal is to understand the circuit mechanisms underlying how our brain synthesizes auditory information to extract complex sound features, such as our language. Towards this goal, he focuses on mouse auditory cortex as the model system, and uses multiple cutting-edge techniques in behaving animals to dissect the circuits that connect sound inputs to behavioral outputs. Specifically, his lab uses in-vivo whole-cell recordings to study synaptic events in single neurons, two-photon calcium imaging to study neuronal population dynamics in a bigger network, and combine these approaches with neuronal manipulation and behaviors. Through these experiments, they aim to bridge the gap between our knowledge at synaptic level and systems level, and elucidate the neuronal underpinnings of sound processing. Findings in the simple mouse auditory cortex should provide a first step towards the ultimate understanding of the complext human brain circuits that enable verbal communication and how they fail in psychiatric disorders.
In 2018, Dr. Kato was named one of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Pew Scholars in the biomedical sciences. He received a four-year grant to advance his exploration of biological mechanisms underpinning human health and disease.