Sakiko Honjoh

Affiliation:International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine

Research Title


How to generate mice who never sleep ~to fully understand and regulate sleep~

01 Research Summary

We are interested in homeostatic sleep/wake regulation in behavioral vigilance states (e.g., mice sleep deeper after when they stayed awake longer) and in cortical neural activity (e.g., a cortical region sleeps deeper when the region has been active during prior waking).

It is becoming clearer that brain regions contribute to sleep/wake regulation to a different extent. Several wake, and nonREM sleep and REM (REM; rapid eye movement) sleep-promoting or -inhibiting areas have been identified. To understand the nature of the homeostatic regulation, using mice, we investigate what kind of changes the critical sleep/wake regulating centers undergo during persistent waking and subsequent sleep.

As for the cortical activity, we focus on slow wave, a hallmark of NREM sleep EEG. Though it is the best marker for sleep need so far and it plays important roles in sleep-dependent memory consolidation, the underlying neural circuits remain largely unknown. Currently we investigate the role of thalamic matrix cells in slow wave generation.


02 Major achievement

Honjoh S, Sasai S, Schiereck SS, Nagai H, Tononi G, Cirelli C. Regulation of cortical activity and arousal by the matrix cells of the ventromedial thalamic nucleus. Nat Commun. 9, 2100 (2018)

Funk CM, Honjoh S, Rodriguez AV, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Local Slow Waves in Superficial Layers of Primary Cortical Areas during REM Sleep. Curr Biol. 26, 396-403 (2016)

Honjoh S, de Vivo L, Okuno H, Bito H, Tononi G, Cirelli C. Higher Arc Nucleus-to-Cytoplasm Ratio during Sleep in the Superficial Layers of the Mouse Cortex. Front Neural Circuits. 11:60 (2017)

03 Educational/Academic Background and Major Awards

Educational/Academic Background

2009 Kyoto University Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto, Japan Ph.D. in Life Science
2009-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow at Kyoto University Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto, Japan
2012-2015 HFSP long-term fellow at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
2015-2017 JSPS Overseas Research Fellow at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
2017- Research Associate, Principal Investigator, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba


2020 The Young Scientists’ Prize, The Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)
2019 Young Teachers Award, University of Tsukuba
2018 TIDE Women’s Award in University of Tsukuba(Encouragement Award)
2010 The GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, Japanese Regional Winner
2009 26th Inoue Research Award for Young Scientists
2009 1st Tachibana Award for the Most Outstanding Female Researcher, Kyoto University