NAKAGAKI ToshiyukiProfessor

Laboratory of Physical Ethology
Research Theme
Searching for an elementary design of behavioral intelligence by means of physical ethology
Research Keywords

ciliate, amoeba, slime mold, protozoa, nematode, live cell imaging, field work, evolutionary ecology, biomechanics, locomotion, memory and learning, mathematical modeling, computer simulation, nonlinear dynamics, active soft matter, Belousov-Zhabotinski reaction, pattern formation, scaling theory, network of biochemical reactions

Overview of Research

Searching for an elementary algorism of behavioral intelligence that may be common from amoeba to human. / Searching for design method of human-friendly interface to machines and robots. / Developing an imaging technique for observing the physical processes of behavior in single-celled organisms. / Exploring the equations of motion that enables diversity and flexibility of behavioral patterns in organisms. / Optimization of structural shape and function based on a theory of biological adaptability. / Mechanics and rheology in locomotion of lower organisms.



How will the capacity of solving a problem in creatures be brought about?  This is a tough question that has been studied so far by scientific minds of every different period since ancient Greek times. Tackling the question as basic science, we expect to deepen understanding of human being itself, and to contribute toward technological innovation of new design for human-friendly interface to machines and robots. We select single-celled organisms as main research object in order to evaluate high ability for information processing by experiment, and we elucidate the mechanism from a dynamical system point of view. Our research strategy is that, by using an advantage of simple organization of body, we describe behavioral intelligence of creature in terms of physical equations of motion. It is an exploration to an origin of organismic intelligence. To do that, we like to use theories, experiments and field works, based on biology, mathematics, physics and information science.

Representative Publications

C. Gao, C. Liu, D. Schenz, X. Li, Z. Zhang, M. Jusup, Z. Wang, M. Beekman and T. Nakagaki: “Does being multi-headed make you better at solving problem? A survey of Physarum-based models and computations”, Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 29, 1-26 (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.plrev.2018.05.002

S. Kuroda, S. Takagi, T. Saigusa and T. Nakagaki : “Physical ethology of unicellular organism”,Brain evolution by design -From Neural origin to cognitive architecture- (Ed. by S. Shigeno, Y. Murakami, T. Nomura) ISBN: 978-4-431-56467-6, Springer-Verlag : 3-23 (2017)

D. Akita, I. Kunita, M. D. Fricker, S. Kuroda, K. Sato and T. Nakagaki : “Experimental models for Murray’s law”, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., Vol. 50, 024001(11pp) (2017). doi:10.1088/1361-6463/50/2/024001

Kunita,I., Yamaguchi,T., Tero,A., Akiyama,M., Kuroda,S., Nakagaki,T., A ciliate memorizes the geometry of a swimming arena, J. R. Soc. Interface 13: 20160155 (2016)

S. Kuroda, I. Kunita,Y. Tanaka, A. Ishiguro, R. Kobayashi, and T. Nakagaki : “Common mechanics of mode switching in locomotion of limbless and legged animals”, Journal of Royal Society Interface, Vol. 11, 20140205 (2014).

A. Tero, S. Takagi, T. Saigusa, K. Ito, D. P. Bebber, M. D. Fricker, K. Yumiki, R. Kobayashi and T. Nakagaki : “Rules for biologically-inspired adaptive network design”, Science, 327 : 439-442 (2010)

T. Saigusa, A. Tero, T. Nakagaki and Y. Kuramoto : “Amoebae anticipate periodic events”, Physical Review Letters, Vol. 100, 018101 (2008)

A. Tero, R. Kobayashi and T. Nakagaki: “Mathematical model for adaptive transport network in path finding by true slime mold”, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 244, 553-564 (2007)

T. Nakagaki, H. Yamada and A. To’th: “Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism” Nature Vol.407 (2000), 470




<Office Hour>
– Time: Anytime during the lecture period
– Place:Research Institute for Electronic Science (RIES) Building, #02-106-2
Please contact in advance by E-mail.
E-mail: nakagaki[at]