Departmental Bulletin Paper New Developments in Neuroscience

Aage, R. Møller

2015pp.1 - 23 , 2015-12-25 , 京都大学未来創成学国際研究ユニット
The human brain is the most complex structure known to man. The complexity of the brain can compete with that of the universe. Neuroscience, the study of the brain and other parts of the nervous system, developed first slowly and then at a rapid pace. Similar to research in many other areas, research in neuroscience is driven by people's curiosity and ingenuity. The brain is a giant information processor that can extract useful features in many forms of sensory signais. The brain is also a controller of complex motor systems and the site of human creativity and consciousness. It has enormous memory capacities, estimated to be in the size of 2.5 petabytes (2, 500 terabytes)*(Reber, 2010). Understanding of some of these complex functions has enriched many lives and continues to do so with prospects of tangible public benefits from development of treatment of serions disorders of the brain and indeed the entire body. New hypotheses and serendipitous observations have contributed to many important discoveries. The increased knowledge and understanding of the functions of the nervous system acquired so far has already been beneficial to many people through the development of treatment of varions diseases, and it has made it possible to devise ways to reduce the risk of acquiring many diseases. Research regarding organization and function of the brain continue to unveil fascinating aspects that were not imagined just a few decades ago. As stated in the Leonardo da Vinci quote "The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." Research requires resources, and the wider attention to the function of the brain brought by "The Decade of the Brain, " spanning 1990 to 1999, had a beneficial effect on funding of research on neuroscience. The effect of the increased attention to the function of the brain, from governments and organizations that support research, can be expected to increase also in the future. The main purpose of this article is to describe, in a generally understandable language, some important new developments in neuroscience. The article discusses the implications and importance of recent finding for understanding some of the normal functions of the brain, and how brain functions are altered in some diseases where the symptoms are generated in the brain. The article also provides a brief history of the development of the science of medicine.

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