Tomoe Ishikawa, Ph.D.


Neural circuits for immune modulation during social contact with sick individuals


Gloria Choi, Ph.D. and Jun Huh, Ph.D.

Biographical Information:

Tomoe received a B.A. and Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Tokyo under the supervision of Prof. Yuji Ikegaya. In her thesis, Tomoe concurrently captured local field potentials and calcium activity from hundreds of spines. She found that sequential replays of multineuronal spikes converge onto nearby synapses of a postsynaptic neuron, with their spatiotemporal features preserved.  As a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Gloria Choi and Dr. Jun Huh, Tomoe seeks to determine whether social engagement with a sick conspecific triggers the immune system to boost immunity to later infection.  

Current Work:

Social interactions with infected animals increase the risk of disease transmission. Therefore, animals change their social behavior according to the health status of interacting conspecific. For example, our laboratory has recently identified amygdalar neural circuits responsible for suppressing innate social behaviors toward sick partners. Intriguingly, exposure to a sick conspecific is also thought to prime the subject’s immune system in the absence of direct transmission. Such changes have been proposed to prepare the subject’s immune system to better respond to a potential attack by the same pathogen. However, how social interaction with sick individuals can lead to immune responses has not been explored. I propose to identify neuroimmune interactions that connect social exposure to sickness with priming of the immune system. This study will delineate the neuroimmune interactions that allow animals to minimize risks of infection through social communications.


  • Ishikawa T, Ikegaya Y. Locally sequential synaptic reactivation during hippocampal ripples. Sci Adv. 2020 Feb;6(7):eaay1492.  
  • Ishikawa T, Kobayashi C, Takahashi N, Ikegaya Y. Functional Multiple-Spine Calcium Imaging from Brain Slices. STAR Protoc. 2020 Dec 18;1(3):100121


social interaction, immune response, cortical amygdala, neuroimmune interaction