Aya Takeoka Lab

Research focus

​The central question that the Takeoka lab addresses is how animals generate and control motor behavior in health and disease. In particular we study mechanisms of circuit assembly, function and plasticity that leads to motor learning using a multi-disciplinary approach including detailed motor kinematic assessments, mouse genetics, viral tracing and manipulation, optogenetic, pharmacogenetic, electrophysiological, and imaging techniques. Our combinatorial approach to the fundamental basis of motor circuit function allows us to understand circuit connectivity and manipulate functions of specified neuronal populations to determine their role in motor circuit output and plasticity.

Our aims are to understand:
• How motor circuits develop to build functional modules at different levels (cortex, brainstem and spinal cord) and how motor learning shapes these circuits.
• How the canonical organization of motor circuits changes after traumatic injury and neurological diseases to compensate for and contribute to motor recovery.

Currently, the lab focuses on how different types of sensory feedback circuits control repetitive and complex motor behavior, with primary focus on somatosensory and visual feedback.


Proprioception: Bottom-up directive for motor recovery after spinal cord injury.@Takeoka AyaNEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH, 2020@: corresponding authors
Functional Local Proprioceptive Feedback Circuits Initiate and Maintain Locomotor Recovery after Spinal Cord InjuryTakeoka A* Arber S*Cell Reports, 27, 71-85 e3, 2019* or °: authors contributed equally
Long-Distance Descending Spinal Neurons Ensure Quadrupedal Locomotor StabilityRuder L Takeoka Aya Arber SNEURON, 92, 1063-1078, 2016
Multisensory Signaling Shapes Vestibulo-Motor Circuit SpecificityBasaldella E Takeoka A. Sigrist M Arber SCELL, 163, 301-12, 2015
Muscle spindle feedback directs locomotor recovery and circuit reorganization after spinal cord injuryTakeoka A. Vollenweider I Courtine G Arber SCELL, 159, 1626-39, 2014

Job openings


From spinal cord injury to recovery

08/04/2019 - Studying the mechanisms of recovery, Leuven researcher Aya Takeoka (NERF) found that a specific type of neuronal feedback from sites below the injury plays a crucial role during early recovery and for maintaining regained motor functions.

Aya Takeoka

Aya Takeoka

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


PhD: Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, USA, 2004-10
Postdoc: Biozentrum, Univ. of Basel and Friedrich Miescher Inst. for Biomedical Res., Basel, Switzerland, 2010-16
NERF/VIB group leader as of September 2016

Contact Info

NERF, empowered by IMEC, KU Leuven and VIBImec CampusKapeldreef 75 3001 LEUVENRoute description