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The biennial Forum of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) is among the major meetings for neuroscientists, bringing together thousands of participants from throughout the world. Over the last decade, the FENS Fora have played a key role in the development and organization of the European neuroscience community and increased the awareness of decision makers about the importance of research and education in Neuroscience.

As the official journal of FENS, the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN) contributes in several ways to the presentation and celebration of neuroscience at the FENS Forum. First, EJN has organized a Special Feature Event, entitled ‘The Ever-Changing Brain’, that will take place prior to the opening ceremony. This event will feature three renowned speakers whose seminal works have had major impact on our understanding of the mechanisms underlying brain plasticity.

Second, this year’s FENS Forum will celebrate the outstanding achievements of neuroscientists who received the FENS–EJN Young Investigator Award and the FENS–EJN Award. These two awards, co-sponsored by FENS and the publisher of EJN, Wiley–Blackwell, are prestigious prizes honouring a ‘rising star’ and the life-time contributions of a senior neuroscientist, respectively. The awardees will speak at a special award event at the FENS Forum.

Third, we prepared this EJN Special Issue on the occasion of the 7th FENS Forum. Beginning with an article by this year’s FENS–EJN Awardee, Dr Wolfram Schultz (University of Cambridge), the articles in this issue collectively exemplify the enormous breadth and quality of neuroscience research presented at the FENS Fora and published in EJN.

This Special Issue is also a tribute to the visionaries who launched EJN over 20 years ago and to the previous Editors who transformed EJN into a major journal in the field. EJN is an integral and vital component of FENS, with its proceeds supporting major activities such as the Network of European Neuroscience Schools (NENS) and the Programme of European Neuroscience Schools (PENS). We are grateful to the contributors to this issue for their continued support of EJN and of our collective efforts to further develop EJN as a major international neuroscience journal and as the FENS members’ primary scientific journal.