From Representative

Takeshi SakuraiTakeshi Sakurai

To live a creative and active life, it is essential to have a high willpower: an ability to make an effort to overcome difficulties to achieve goals. The reward system, executive function controlled by the prefrontal cortex, etc. may be involved, but details of the neuroscientific mechanism of the willpower, a unique function of human, is unknown. This research area aims to reveal the mechanism of this mental function, and the impact of social/internal environment on willpower. Along with the research to identify the neural basis of willpower, interdisciplinary investigation will be performed by reserchers of neuroscience, psychiatry, internal medicine, educational psychology and sport science will closely cooperate each other to seek the methods to support the development of will-power through education and sport.

Takeshi Sakurai

Research System


This research area aims to perform multidimensional analyses of the molecular/neural basis of willpower and the condition caused by its impairment such as social withdrawal (hikikomori), apathy and modern depression, from these three viewpoints.

Neuroscience of willpower

Internal environment including endocrine system, metabolic abnormalities, intestinal bacterial flora, and presence of chronic inflammation

Growth and external environment including education, society, exercise, diet and sleep

This research area also aims to help improving the people's willpower by feeding back the findings. To scientifically understand the correlation between environment and willpower, specialists in educational psychology, psychosomatic medicine, etc. who can analyze the growth environment of young people including family, education and society in practice should perform multidimensional analyses in close cooperation with specialists in neuroscience, psychiatry, etc. who are familiar with the molecular/neural basis of mental growth and diseases caused by its impairment, and thereby characterize various aspects of the interface between human and environment.

It is likely that recent changes in growth environment in our society have had major impact on mental growth, no clear evidence has been available. In the field of neuroscience, investigations on reward system, a basis of willingness, have focused on the functions of dopamine neuron of the ventral tegmental area, ventral striatum, etc. However, sufficient feedback has not been provided to the actual human society. This area explores biological basis related with the development of willpower, paying attention to social environment and internal environment.