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Andrea Benucci graduated in Physics at the University of Padua, Italy. Already as an undergraduate, he developed a strong interest in Biophysics, especially for the Biophysics of neural systems, which he studied at UC San Diego and at the Imperial College in London. He spent his last year as an undergraduate at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy. He obtained his PhD at the ETH/University of Zurich in the laboratory of Peter Koenig and moved to the beautiful San Francisco for his post-doctoral studies. There, he joined the lab of Matteo Carandini at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. He loved working with Matteo so much that not only he accepted to continue working with him as a Research Associate, but also he followed Matteo across the ocean when the lab moved to England at the University College London, where he became Senior Research Associate.

Current position: Team Leader (equivalent to US Assistant Professor), Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Behavior, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-shi, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan.
I also have an appointment at the University College London, Institute of Ophthalmology, as honorary Senior Lecturer.


I am interested in visual perception and visually guided behaviors. During my undergraduate studies, I got to know a child with congenital eye problem, and I realized how the lack of vision causes a variety of disorders during normal development. For my masters thesis I studied the impact of light deprivation on the cell morphology and cell count in early visual areas of the rat neonatal brain. For my PhD thesis, I studied three dimensional depth perception in monkey visual area V4. Here in the Lab for Neural Circuits and Behavior, I am studying the mouse visual cortex, functionally identifying the location of primary and accessory visual areas. I am interested in how visual information is transferred across different area in order to lead to perceptual decisions and visually guided behaviors. I think “Life’ is the most mysterious phenomenon happened on Earth, and neurons and the brain are among intriguing manifestations of this mystery.


  • Background: Molecular Biology, Two-photon Imaging
  • Research interests: Analysis of neural dynamics and circuit mechanism for top-down information processing.


I hold a BSc in Mathematics and a MSc in Applied Mathematics from University of Florence, and a PhD in Computational Mathematics from University of Insubria (Italy). I specialize in applications of scientific computing and machine learning to science and engineering. From 2014 to 2016, I have been working as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT-STADIUS) at KU Leuven (Belgium), in the framework of a project on data-driven modeling financed by the European Research Council. I enjoy interdisciplinary research blending mathematical modeling and numerical algorithms, and I believe that modern machine intelligence holds the key towards a better understanding of many of the fascinating cognitive processes occurring in the brain. Spurred by these interests, I have joined RIKEN-BSI as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow with the goal of developing advanced machine learning based models to investigate the neural computations lying at the core of perception and decision-making.


My undergraduate background is in applied physics and mathematics. After a PhD in Neuroscience at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, and several years of auditory coding research in Lesica lab at UCL Ear Institute, I joined Benucci lab to continue working on sensory systems. I am particularly interested in how the brain generates behavior based on sensory information. In my work, I combine theoretical work with imaging of the neural activity in behaving animals.


During my Ph.D., I have worked on experience-dependent plasticity in rodent barrel cortex using optogenetic and electrophysiological methods. I am particularly interested in how networks of V1 and higher order visual areas work during visual perception.


I graduated from Pierre et Marie Curie University (Paris, France) in Computer Science with a Image Processing and Analysis specialization. A growing interest in biology lead me to take additional courses and to graduate in Bioinformatics. I worked as a software developer at Institut Curie in Paris for several years. Seeking new challenges, I joined RIKEN to discover brain science and Japanese food culture.


From April 2012 to October 2013 I worked as a research investigator for Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), in the field of life sciences. I also worked as main liaison for the JST Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology funding program (ERATO). It was a great opportunity, however it also made me realize that I wanted to support a laboratory as a technical staff again. I graduated in Nutrition from Kyoritsu Women’s University. After that, for over a decade I have worked as a technical staff in the field of life sciences. My skills include construction of cDNAs, cell culture, and Tg mice production. My last main experiences in an experiment laboratory has been at RIKEN BSI from 2005 to 2012. I am very happy to come back to research and excited to be a member of the Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Behavior.


My name is Rie Nishiyama and I am a technical staff taking care of the lab animal facility. In 1999 I got a job at JAC (a Japanese recruitment company). My first employment through JAC was at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) were I worked for 10 years. My job there was to breed animals and perform various support and maintenance tasks including running behavioral tests. From 2009 to 2010 I worked at Invivo Sciences in California, where I was involved in experiments focused on liver disease. After I came back to Japan I worked for RCAI (Research Center for Allergy and Immunology) and now I am at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in the Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Behavior.



Former members

  • Mohammad YAGHOUBI, BSI Summer Program 2017
  • Michael MORAIS, Graduate Student
  • Ningyu ZHANG, BSI Summer Program 2016
  • Omar SOROUR, BSI Summer Program 2016
  • Yoko OTSUKA, Laboratory Assistant
  • Nevrez IMAMOGLU, Postdoctorate Fellow
  • Hiroe YAMAZAKI, Technician
  • Zoey ISHERWOOD, BSI Summer Program 2014
  • Cynthia STEINHARDT, BSI Summer Program 2014
  • Yuriko KUMAKURA, Laboratory Assistant

Join the lab

We are under intense development and we are looking for motivated, enthusiastic, bright scientists and technical staff to join the team. Please, click on Join The Lab for available positions.


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