Research in Evolutionary Psychiatry


In our modern human society, psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, addiction, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are maladaptive (disadvantagous or abnormal) behavioral phenotypes.

In the Darwinian evolutionary theory, individuals with phenotypes maladaptive to environments are subjected for natural selection. Nevertheless, against this, psychiatric disorders have been existing among us, and never extinguished. Moreover, prominent increases of prevalence of some of psychiatric disorders have recently been reported.

Our research is to understand the biological (neural) mechanisms associated with psychiatric disorders under consideration of the above evolutionarily conflicting question.

We are currently conducting several research projects, primarily neuropsychological research in humans, along with animal (with non-human primates and rodents) research.

Keywords in our research: Sociality, Cognitive bias, Dopamine and Serotonin, Stress, Neurodevelopment

On-going Research Projects

・Research for unveiling brain dysfunction and behavioral abnormalities associated with addiction (particularly behavioral addiction) and their relationships with domestication.

・Research with neuroeconomic and behavioral economic approach for unveiling neural mechanisms of social cognitive and affective function associated with neurodevelopmental disorder and major depressive disorder.

・Practical application of basic research results into learning and daily life supports in children with neurodevelopmental disorder.

・Research to understand the influences of social environments on brain development in humans.

Past Research Examples

Human Research

・Recognition of social rank is stronger in children with autism spectrum disorder (but, the way to recognize it is different from normal children).
Sci Rep, 9: 15657 (2019)

・A part of cognitive dysfunction observed in children with autism spectrum disorder is actually caused by stress.
Neuroscience, 343: 229-239 (2017)

・Behavioral addicts are unable to calculate probability estimation and exhibit a problem on self-recognition bias.
IBRO Rep, 6: S107 (2019)

Animal Research

・Autism spectrum disorder may be advantageous and adaptive behavioral phenotypes against over-populated social environments.
Sci Rep, 8: 3497 (2018)

・A reason why psychiatric disorders are not extinguished among humans may be due to the neural mechanisms that produce social hierarchy in social groups.
Front Neurosci, 9: 219 (2015)
Int J Neuropsychopharmacol, 20: 324-335 (2017)
Sci Rep, 7: 43348 (2017)

・Prenatal stress induces neurodevelopmental changes, but such changes may be adaptive against expected postnatal environments (but if postnatal environments is not something expected, it results in maladaptive, and considered as disorder).
Neural Plast, 2015: 291476 (2015)
Physiol Behav, 165: 146-153 (2016)

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