Saul Kato, PhD

TitleAssistant Professor
InstitutionUniversity of California San Francisco
Address675 Nelson Rising Lane
San Francisco CA 94158
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    Stanford UniversityBSPhysics
    Stanford UniversityMSElectrical Engineering
    Columbia UniversityPhDNeurobiology and Behavior

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    How does the brain produce flexible and effective behavior?

    Our lab develops and applies computational, cutting-edge engineering, and experimental approaches to basic and applied neuroscience and build theories of brain function. We also collaborate with other labs to apply our tools to probe brain dysfunction and disease.

    The production of flexible but controlled behavioral sequences in simpler animals may be an evolutionary foundation for higher cognitive abilities in humans. I study how real-time function emerges from the nervous system of C. elegans, a 1 millimeter long roundworm. Despite having only 302 neurons, this animal has a rich behavioral repertoire including probabilistic and directed taxis, associative learning, cooperation, and coordinated body movement. I combine dynamical systems analysis with the development and application of high-throughput, high-resolution neural activity imaging technologies to understand how this "low-n" neural network processes sensory stimuli and integrates them with an evolving internal state in order to produce competent, continuous behavior.

    On an entirely different evolutionary branch, organisms acquired the ability to harness large pools of largely undifferentiated neurons and shape them through development and learning in order to flexibly solve problems and drive complex tasks, thereby getting around the limited information capacity of the genome. I am also interested in understanding how these "high-n" neural systems achieve what they do, and determining what ingredients, or rules of assembly and operation, are required in order for such sophisticated problem-solving functions to emerge.

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    Emergence of Functional Network Dynamics from Single Cell Properties
    NIH/NIGMS R35GM124735Aug 1, 2017 - Jul 31, 2022
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Long term high speed and magnification imaging of 3D migrations – cells and nematodes
    Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research PBBR-TMC-7028659Aug 1, 2017 - Jul 31, 2018
    Role: Co-Investigator
    Dissecting whole brain neuronal network dynamics
    Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research PBBR-NFR-7028580Jun 15, 2017 - Jun 14, 2018
    Role: Co-Investigator

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Hums I, Riedl J, Mende F, Kato S, Kaplan HS, Latham R, Sonntag M, Traunmüller L, Zimmer M. Regulation of two motor patterns enables the gradual adjustment of locomotion strategy in Caenorhabditis elegans. Elife. 2016 05 25; 5. PMID: 27222228; PMCID: PMC4880447.
    2. Kato S, Kaplan HS, Schrödel T, Skora S, Lindsay TH, Yemini E, Lockery S, Zimmer M. Global brain dynamics embed the motor command sequence of Caenorhabditis elegans. Cell. 2015 Oct 22; 163(3):656-69. PMID: 26478179.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Prevedel R, Yoon YG, Hoffmann M, Pak N, Wetzstein G, Kato S, Schrödel T, Raskar R, Zimmer M, Boyden ES, Vaziri A. Simultaneous whole-animal 3D imaging of neuronal activity using light-field microscopy. Nat Methods. 2014 Jul; 11(7):727-730. PMID: 24836920; PMCID: PMC4100252.
    4. Kato S, Xu Y, Cho CE, Abbott LF, Bargmann CI. Temporal responses of C. elegans chemosensory neurons are preserved in behavioral dynamics. Neuron. 2014 Feb 05; 81(3):616-28. PMID: 24440227; PMCID: PMC4112952.
    5. Chalasani SH, Kato S, Albrecht DR, Nakagawa T, Abbott LF, Bargmann CI. Neuropeptide feedback modifies odor-evoked dynamics in Caenorhabditis elegans olfactory neurons. Nat Neurosci. 2010 May; 13(5):615-21. PMID: 20364145; PMCID: PMC2937567.
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