Disaster Humanities and Social Science Division
Cognitive Sciences Lab
Professor (Cross-Appointed)

Research Subject(s)
I am interested in how the ‘human’ mind, behavior, and society are realized in the brain. Using functional neuroimaging, physiological and behavioral measurements, and social survey, I explore the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the mysteries of the human mind, behavior, and social dynamics, including those in disasters.
Key Words
Cognitive neuroscience / Social Brain / Self / Communication / fMRI
Research Activities

We explored the “power to live,” individual characteristics (personality, way of thinking, habits) advantageous for surviving a disaster based on the interview (Fig 1A) and questionnaire (Fig 1B) surveys of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster. As a result, eight factors (leadership, problem solving, altruism, stubbornness, etiquette, emotion regulation, self-transcendence, and active sell-being) were identified (Fig 1C; Sugiura et al., 2015). It has also become clear that each of these factors play an important role in different phases or contexts of disasters (Sugiura et al., 2019, 2020).

To elucidate the neural basis of individual differences in the power to live, we are conducting research to visualize information processing in the brain when each factor is exerted using neuroimaging technics such as functional MRI (Fig. 2A). For example, we have revealed the relationship between brain activity and problem solving when creatively coping with unexpected situations (Fig 2B and C; Miura et al., 2020a) and that between brain activity and stubbornness when recognizing the opinions of others (Miura et al., 2020b). These findings are expected to contribute to the development of educational technology.

Selected Works

Miura N, Yoshii K, Takahashi M, Sugiura M, Kawashima R. (2020a). Functional MRI on the ability to handle unexpected events in complex socio-technological systems: task performance and problem-solving characteristics are associated with low activity of the brain involved in problem solving. The Transactions of Human Interface Society, 22(1), 43-54. doi:10.11184/his.22.1_43

Miura N, Sugiura M, Nozawa T, Yamamoto Y, Sasaki Y, Hamamoto Y, Yamazaki S, Hirano K, Takahashi M, Kawashima R. (2020b). Taking another's perspective promotes right parieto-frontal activity that reflects open-minded thought. Social Neuroscience, 15(3), 282-295. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2019.1710249

Sugiura M, Nouchi R, Honda A, Sato S, Abe T, Imamura F. (2020). Survival-oriented personality factors are associated with various types of social support in an emergency disaster situation. PLoS One, 15(2), e0228875. do:10.1371/journal.pone.0228875

Sugiura M, Sato S, Nouchi R, Honda A, Ishibashi R, Abe T, Muramoto T, Imamura F. (2019). Psychological processes and personality factors for an appropriate tsunami evacuation. Geosciences, 9(8), 326, doi:10.3390/geosciences9080326

Sugiura M, Sato S, Nouchi R, Honda A, Abe T, Muramoto T, Imamura F. (2015). Eight Personal Characteristics Associated with the Power to Live with Disasters as Indicated by Survivors of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster. PLoS One, 10(7), e0130349, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130349.

Selected Memberships
  • Society for neuroscience
  • Organization for Human Brain Mapping
  • The Japan Neuroscience Society
  • The Japanese Psychological Association
Selected Awards
  • The Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education,Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, The Young Scientists’ Award
  • Nakayamasho shoreisho Nakayama Foundation for Human Science