With the general improvement of physical health in developed countries, the relative importance of neuropathology is growing. Mental illnesses are becoming significant public health concerns, schizophrenia, for example, having an incidence approaching 0.5–1% of the population . The general ageing of the population also increases the incidence of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease, touching more than 1% after the age of 65 in some countries . Finally, drug addiction, and the associated direct or indirect mortality, remains the most widespread mental disorder and a major worldwide societal problem.
Neurobiology has led the way in computational modelling for over half a century. It is now time to scale up and develop a real systems biology of the nervous system and the associated diseases. The quantitative information is either already available or on its way. Although progress has to be made on the multi-scale and model integration fronts, the methodology is essentially here. The computing power required is matched by the latest generation of super-computers. Neurobiologists have no excuse not to be at the forefront of computational systems biology.
The author thanks Matt Hodgkinson for his help writing this commentary.