[Multisensory Integration]Multisensory Integration in Biological Systems

Strategic Objective

An integrated understanding and elucidation of regulatory mechanisms for human multi-sensing networks

Program Supervisor


Ryouzo Nagai(President, Jichi Medical University)

Research supervisor


Ryohei Kanzaki(Director/Professor, The University of Tokyo, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology)


 This research area aims for an integrated understanding of “multi-sensing systems,” which encompass biological sensory systems and the peripheral nervous network, and the development of ways to visualize and control these. To achieve this, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) have simultaneously established four programs (CREST, PRESTO, AMED-CREST, and PRIME), which will promote research while collaborating with each other. Therefore, this research area has Program Supervisor (PS) for collaborate with four programs in addition to Research Supervisor (RS). Also, JST may share with proposal with AMED during the selection process. Please be understanding in advance that JST’s sharing this proposal with AMED.

 Policy of Program Supervisor
 Sensory functions and the autonomic nervous system play an important role as feedback systems that make sure the body is always fulfilling its functions. On the other hand, the decline and failure of sensory functions due to internal and external stresses such as increasing age, as well as impairment to the peripheral nervous system are major risk factors for health problems and the onset of chronic illness. Thus, by gaining an integrated understanding of the physiological mechanisms of “multi-sensing,” which encompasses biological sensory systems and the peripheral nervous network, we expect that it will become possible to develop new treatment methods that can target illnesses related to the organs across the body, to improve quality of life (QOL), and thus to extend healthy life expectancy. Moreover, the social implementation of innovative technologies via multi-sensing systems, such as sensory substitution and sensory sharing, could contribute to the realization of a richer, happier society.

 JST aims to expand sensing functions and to acquire new functions, based on the clarification of basic principles and the development of foundational and applied technologies. Meanwhile, AMED’s objective is the restoration and preservation of lost functions, i.e. the restoration, preservation, and prevention of sensing and regulatory functions, based on medical applications from basic research with a view to channeling these into health and medical care.
 More specifically, we aim to clarify the operating mechanisms of multi-sensing systems, to explain pathological conditions, to develop technology that visualizes and quantifies states of activity, and, based on these, to develop treatment and prevention methods with few side effects and to create medicines, medical equipment, and minimally invasive devices that are suitable for individuals. At the same time, JST and AMED will work together to encourage this, on the understanding that the expansion of the multi-sensing functions of living organisms and the application of advanced sensing mechanisms will create seeds of innovation.
 In this research area, researchers from the four programs will create a network-based research institute, and in so doing will advance mutual collaboration between young researchers and encourage further development of research. Moreover, Goal #2 of the Moonshot Research and Development Program (from the 2019 academic year to the 2029 academic year) is “Realization of ultra-early disease prediction and intervention by 2050,” and we will act on this with our sights set on collaboration with AMED’s Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences/Brain Mapping by Integrated Neuro-technologies for Disease Studies/Strategic International Brain Science Research Promotion Program (from the 2014 academic year to the 2023 academic year).

 Policy of Research Supervisor
 Within living organisms, external/internal input stimuli are encoded as sensory information (such as special sensations, visceral sensations, and somatic sensations) by various sensory receptors, and turned into electrical signals. After this, these signals are transmitted to the central nerves via the peripheral nerves. This research area aims to comprehensively clarify biological multisensory systems that integrate these biological senses with the peripheral nervous network.
 Research on the senses of living organisms developed in a way that notably put analysis of sight and hearing before that of other senses. In recent years, we have also gradually started to gain new information on other senses: for example, single-cell omics analysis technology and the development of the functional and structural analysis of proteins has led to the identification of new receptors related to taste and smell, and their operating principles are becoming clear. On the other hand, existing research on the senses has advanced by specializing in each sense, and we have not sufficiently analyzed sensory systems from the perspective of their integrated mechanisms, such as coordination between the different senses. Moreover, recently, as areas such as information science and engineering devices develop, we are also clarifying new biological sensing functions by applying these devices to living organisms. ICT technologies, represented by virtual reality and augmented reality, are making rapid progress, and so, in addition to the clarification of this kind of biological multisensory system, we are combining the knowledge that we have gained through research on biological senses to date with these ICT technologies. Technologies that will contribute to the extension of human sensing functions and improved sensitivity are also becoming more important in terms of academia and industry.
 In light of the above, this research area will promote the clarification of the functions of biological multisensory systems in vital activity, and the development of technology that applies these functions and their operational principles.

Research Area Advisors

Masahiko Inami Professor, The Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo
Tatsushi Onaka Professor, Department of Physiology, Jicji Medical University
Hokto Kazama Laboratory Head, Center for Brain Science, RIKEN
Azusa Kamikouchi Professor, Graduate Schcol of Science, Nagoya University
Shinichiro Kumagaya Associate Professor, The Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo
Kazuhiko Seki Director, Department of Neurophysiology, NCNP
Makoto Tominaga Professor, Division of Cell Signaling, National Institute for Physiological Sciences
Nishimoto Shinji Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University
Shigeto Furukawa Sinior Distinguished Researcher, Communication Science Laboratories , NTT
Katsumi Watanabe Professor, School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, Waseda University
Ayako Watabe Professor, Institute of Clinical Medicine and Research, The Jikei University School of Medicine

Research Area Management Advisors

Kaoru Kondo Project Professor, Advanced Art Design Lab., RCAST UTokyo/Concertmaster, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
Yutaka Hasegawa President & CEO, Sony Design Consulting Inc.

Research Projects

  1. Year Started : 2021

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