Skip to Main Content
Ten years have passed since the Japanese ‘Century of the Brain’ was promoted, and its most notable objective, the unique ‘Creating the Brain’ approach, has led us to apply a humanoid robot as a neuroscience tool. Here, we aim to understand the brain to the extent that we can make humanoid robots solve tasks typically solved by the human brain by using essentially the same principles. I postulate that this ‘Understanding the Brain by Creating the Brain’ approach is the only way to fully understand neural mechanisms in a rigorous sense. Even if we could create an artificial brain, we could not investigate its functions, such as vision or motor control, if we just let it float in incubation fluid in a jar. The brain must be connected to sensors and a motor apparatus so that it can interact with its environment. A humanoid robot controlled by an artificial brain, which is implemented as software based on computational models of brain functions, seems to be the most plausible candidate for this purpose, given currently available technology. With the slogan of ‘Understanding the Brain by Creating the Brain’, in the mid-80s we started to use robots for brain research (Miyamoto & Kawato 1988), and about 10 different kinds of robots have been used by our group at Osaka University’s Department of Biophysical Engineering, ATR Laboratories, ERATO Kawato Dynamic Brain Project (ERATO 1996–2001), and ICORP Kawato Computational Brain Project (ICOPR 2004–2009).