The discipline of neuroscience has increasingly been expanding. Neuroscience researchers of today conduct comprehensive research on phenomena covering a variety of disciplines in order to deeply explore the features of molecules, cells and systems (neural circuits). As physiological phenomena and pathological phenomena are closely related, many reports have been published showing cases where basic research helped to elucidate the pathology of a disease. In this respect, cooperative efforts are increasingly expected to be made between researchers in basic research and clinical researchers.
Furthermore, in research on neural circuits, efforts are progressing to seamlessly integrate information on multiple anatomical levels, from micro to macro, and concurrently to comprehensively understand brain function by elucidating relationships with various other functions. Projects in line with these efforts include the White House BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), the European Union’s Human Brain Project, and the Brain Mapping by Integrated Neurotechnologies for Disease Studies (Brain/minds) project in Japan. The next step will be to artificially simulate and reconstruct the entire brain—a “biological computer.” On the other hand, artificial intelligence (AI) is also rapidly advancing in the engineering field and is being applied in various social settings today. A lively discussion is ongoing about artificial general intelligence (AGI), and whether the addition of ego, consciousness, and/or reasoning ability to AGI is warranted. These two streams of research are very closely related, and similarities and differences in circuit construction or circuit function have the potential of dynamic development in each disciplinary area, which is expected to have a great impact on society. Also, in molecular neuroscience, which deals with more minute molecules, researchers can now analyze the detailed behavior of single molecules as well as intermolecular interactions. At the same time, thanks to the advancement of the global analysis of the whole molecule beyond single molecule science, comprehensive studies to identify functional interactions of many molecules from big data analysis have been increasing at an accelerating pace. In elucidating hereditary neurodegenerative disease, molecular genetics targeting single genes played a successful role in achieving outstanding results. Integrated big data analysis based on comprehensive data carries the possibility of elucidating psychiatric disorders or sporadic neurological disorders, which cannot be dealt with by single-molecule analysis. It is also expected that a similar method would be highly effective in elucidating function at the single cell level. This molecular-level micro-network is not only useful in understanding diseases and developing therapies but is also expected to help develop molecular machines. Needless to say, innovation of technologies, such as brain anatomical/functional imaging technology, gene editing technology, comprehensive analysis technology and computation theory, is essential as a driving force in the advancement of these disciplines.
I hope that the 41st Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society will provide participants with an opportunity to understand the current state of the rapidly progressing neuroscience discipline and to discuss the future (new horizon) of neuroscience across generations, despite the limited time and presentation slots available. I also encourage participants to share their outstanding research results and discuss them from the perspective of the overall neuroscience picture in such a way as to help neuroscience develop as a discipline in the future. There are many places and events to enjoy in Mt. Rokko and the port city Kobe, particularly in July, and I am sure that the meeting will give participating researchers an opportunity to expand their network. I look forward to seeing you at the annual meeting.