Toward a definitive understanding of kansei

The Department of Kansei, Behavioral, and Brain Sciences is focused on cross-disciplinary education and research on higher brain function in humans, referred to as kansei. Because kansei is difficult to research within a conventional academic framework, we attempt to comprehensively elucidate higher brain functions in kansei by adopting a natural science perspective. In order to achieve this goal, faculty from different disciplines, including Arts, Psychology, Disability Sciences, Clinical Medicine, and Neuroscience focus on their own professional academic framework, while interactive research and educational organization are structured in such a way that all disciplines can be integrated in a coordinated manner through the principles of kansei. For example, graduate students in the Arts can learn the basics of brain science in order to augment their expertise. By establishing such an educational system, we aim to train students who will comprehensively understand various human behaviors related to kansei on an individual, genetic, and molecular level. This unique integration of different disciplines can be actualized in our program due to special culture of the University of Tsukuba. The university has never limited itself to an existing framework, and has a history of always seeking new ways to build optimal systems, always bearing the following question in mind: “How can we create new ideas and new things?” Being forward-looking and mobile are distinctive characteristics of our university.

As we move forward into the future, “Exploring mind and kansei” will be the core research theme of our program. As demonstrated by the selection of the program “Promotion of Kansei Science for Understanding the Mechanism of Mind and Heart” as a 21st Century COE Program in 2003 and “International Program for New Frontiers in ‘Mind and Brain’ Science” an Initiative for Attractive Education in Graduate Schools in 2006, it is obvious that our theme is essential and raises important, top-priority issues for Japanese society in the era to come. In our program, we have not only promoted these educational research programs but also pursued various areas of research. In the fields of Brain Science, Neuroscience, and Developmental Neurobiology, we have conducted research aimed at elucidating the physical and structural basis for the brain mechanisms underlying the occurrence of kansei. In the fields of Comparative Cognitive Science and Behavioral Neuroscience, we have performed an ethological analysis of kansei. In the Science of Mental Disorders, clinical medical research has been conducted on autism, as a representative variant of kansei structure. Also, the fields of Kansei Information Science and Kansei Design Studies are developing a new design theory from a Brain Science perspective, in which kansei functions such as inspiration and creativity are incorporated into product design and manufacturing processes.

In 2008, we adopted a new system, dividing the program into two segments: the Master’s program (2 years) and the Doctoral program (3 years). With this change, we have been transformed into a department with a new and advanced professional education system. Responding to social needs for graduate education, we strive to establish “Kansei Science” as a new academic field.