Previously, she was with the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) (1987-99), including working as an associate research professor (associate neurobiologist) (1997-99) and a lecturer in psychobiology of the School of Biology (1998). She also worked as a research scientist for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. (1987-89).
Arai earned her doctoral, master’s and bachelor's degrees at Chiba University in Chiba, Japan (1987, 1984, 1982). She was a postdoctoral fellow at UCI (1989-91).
She is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and she is currently a president of the Sangamon Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Arai has published more than 50 journal articles. Her research interests include the way proteins called TARPs affect brain receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate, how drugs can be used to enhance communication between nerurons, and the study of kisspeptin, a brain neuropeptide. Her research has been funded by national organizations, including the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the American Heart Association, the Whitehall Foundation and various pharmaceutical industries.