After Tokyo, I took the bullet train to Kyoto University to visit Dr. Watanabe’s lab.

He currently uses both the TaskForcer and the Touch Panel operant chamber for mice. 

Dr. Watanabe is interested in understanding the role of the secondary Motor Cortex in motor planning. He measures a very simple behavior, licking response, which requires just movement of the tongue. For this, Dr. Watanabe designed a custom TaskForcer setup with dual spout ports instead of the single spout-lever. He then created a simple task where animals learn to choose the correct spout (left or right) that varies across trials, in order to receive a liquid reward. In this way, he can examine the role of the Motor Cortex in motor planning, with very little movement of the animal during neurophysiological recording. Regarding the TaskForcer, Dr. Watanabe reiterated, “ With the TaskForcer, I am able to get precise and reliable measurements of neural activity during behavior!”

Me with Dr. Watanable in front of his two-photon imaging setup, where he was currently tracking calcium responses of neurons in the Motor Cortex while a mouse was performing the task.

Next, a few of Dr. Watanabe’s lab members provided a demonstration of the Touch Panel operant chamber for mice. They have three Touch Panel chambers and are currently using them to train mice on a 5 choice serial reaction time task to measure attention. 

Dr. Watanabe plans to record neural activity from freely moving animals using the Touch Panel operant chamber in the future. 

Me with Dr. Watanabe’s lab members in their Touch Panel testing room.

Next stop – Doshisha University in Kyoto!