Research Interests

“It is like riding a bike.” This phrase refers to memory retention of a learned task in the absence of practice. Our everyday experience shows that the nervous system forms long-term motor memories. However, experimental demonstration of how motor memories are formed and retained remains elusive.

Spinal circuit plasticity for motor control and learning

Spinal circuits are at the heart of sensorimotor transformation to generate movements. Yet, it is challenging to disentangle how spinal circuits might contribute to motor skill acquisition and retention due to the physical continuum of the brain that also participates in those processes. As such, we know little about the identities of spinal neurons or circuits that underlie the bottom-up mechanisms of motor skill learning and retention. Our recent work suggests the exciting possibility that specific cell types and circuits drive mechanisms regulating spinal learning and memory recall. We aim to understand circuit organization principles and functions that underlie motor adaptation and retention mediated by spinal circuits.

Motor control by sensory feedback

We are interested in understanding how sensory feedback regulates motor planning, learning, and execution. In this context, the lab focuses on dissecting how somatosensory, proprioceptive, and visual feedback is disseminated once the primary afferents enter the nervous system and are integrated to alter repetitive and complex motor behavior at the different hierarchical levels of the central nervous system.

A multidisciplinary approach

We use a wide variety of methods, including detailed motor kinematic assessments, mouse genetics, viral tracing and manipulation, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological recordings in awake behaving animals, and imaging techniques. This combinatorial approach allows us to study and alter functions of specific neuronal populations, which in turn helps us to understand their roles in sensory information processing necessary for motor output and plasticity.


Main Publications


Lavaud S, Bichara C, D’Andola M, Yeh S, Takeoka A. Two inhibitory neuronal classes govern acquisition and recall of spinal sensorimotor adaptation. Science 384,194-201.


Bertels H, Vicente-Ortiz G, El Kanbi K, Takeoka A. Neurotransmitter phenotype switching by spinal excitatory interneurons regulates locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury. Nature Neuroscience 25 (5) 617–629.


Takeoka A. Proprioception: Bottom-up directive for motor recovery after spinal cord injury. Neurosci Res 154, 1-8. Invited review.


Takeoka A, Arber S. Functional local proprioceptive feedback circuits initiate and sustain locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury. Cell Reports 27 (1): 71–85.e3.


Ruder L, Takeoka A, Arber S. Long-distance descending spinal neurons ensure quadrupedal locomotor stability. Neuron 92 (5): 1063-1078.


Basaldella E, Takeoka A, Sigrist M, Arber S. Multisensory signaling shapes vestibulo-motor circuit specificity. Cell 163 (2): 301-12.


Takeoka A, Vollenweider I, Courtine G, Arber S. Muscle spindle feedback directs locomotor recovery and circuit reorganization after spinal cord injury. Cell 159 (7): 1626-1639.
Preview article in the same issue


Takeoka A, Jindrich DL, Muñoz-Quiles C, Zhong H, van den Brand R, Pham DL, Ziegler MD, Ramon-Cueto A, Roy RR, Edgerton VR, Phelps PE. Axon regeneration can facilitate or suppress hindlimb function after Olfactory Ensheathing Glia transplantation. J. Neurosci 31: 4298-4310.

Other publications


Kolb J, Tsata V, John N, Kim K, Möckel C, Rosso G, Kurbel V, Parmar A, Sharma G, Karandasheva K, Abuhattum S, Lyraki O, Beck T, Müller P, Schlüßler R, Frischknecht R, Wehner A, Krombholz N, Steigenberger B, Beis D, Takeoka A, Blümcke I, Möllmert S, Singh K, Guck J, Kobow K, Wehner D. Small leucine-rich proteoglycans inhibit CNS regeneration by modifying the structural and mechanical properties of the lesion environment. Nat Commun 14, 6814.


Rehman R, Miller M, Krishnamurthy S, Kjell J, Elsayed L, Hauck S, Heuvel F, Conquest A, Chandrasekar A, Ludolph A, Boeckers T, Mulaw M, Goetz M, Morganti-Kossmann M, Takeoka A, Roselli F. Met/HGFR triggers detrimental reactive microglia in TBI. Cell Reports 41, 111867.


Ceyssens F, Carmona MB, Kil D, Deprez M, Tooten E, Nuttin B, Takeoka A, Balschun D, Kraft M, Puers R. Chronic neural recording with probes of subcellular cross-section using 0.06 mm² dissolving microneedles as insertion device. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 284: 369-376.


Ziegler MD, Hsu D, Takeoka A,¬ Zhong H, Ramon-Cueto A, Phelps PE, Roy RR, Edgerton VR. Further evidence of Olfactory Ensheathing Glia facilitating axonal regeneration after a complete spinal cord transection. Exp Neurol 229: 109-119.


Takeoka A, Kubasak MD, Zhong H, Kaplan JA, Roy RR, Phelps PE. Noradrenergic innervation of the rat spinal cord caudal to a complete spinal cord transection: Effects of olfactory ensheathing glia. Exp Neurol, 222, 59-69.


Takeoka A, Kubasak MD, Zhong H, Roy RR, Phelps PE. Serotonergic innervation of the caudal spinal stump in rats after complete spinal transection: effect of olfactory ensheathing glia. J Comp Neurol, 515, 664-76.


Kubasak MD, Jindrich DL, Zhong H, Takeoka A, McFarland KC, Muñoz-Quiles C, Roy RR, Edgerton VR, Ramón-Cueto A, Phelps PE. OEG implantation and step training enhance hindlimb-stepping ability in adult spinal transected rats. Brain, 131, 264-76.


Principal Investigator

Technical Staff


Nisha Jose

Research Technician


Yuki Goya

Research Technician



Yuko Goto 後藤 祐子

Administrative Assistant

Neuroelectronics Research Flanders (NERF) Team


PhD Students


Hannah Bertels

PhD Student


ShuHao Yeh

PhD Student


Simon Lavaud

PhD Student

MSc Students


Haki Noori

Master Student


Lauren Miguet

Master Student


Mathias Smeets

Master Student




Join Us

Logo of RIKEN CBS Takeoka lab is recruiting PhD students, Postdoctoral researchers, research scientists and technical staff!

Please contact aya.takeoka (at) to apply!




Laboratory for Motor Circuit Plasticity
RIKEN Center for Brain Science
Room 101b, CBS Neural Circuit Genetics Research Building
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-shi,
Saitama 351-0198, Japan


Position Inquiries

Aya Takeoka - Team Leader
aya.takeoka (at)

General Inquiries

Yuko Goto - Administrative Assistant
yuko.goto (at)
+81-48-462-1111 ext. 6252 (from abroad)
048-462-1111 ext. 6252 (from Japan)


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