A program that focuses on the interdisciplinary scientific study of the molecular, structural, physiologic, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of the brain and nervous system. Includes instruction in molecular and cellular neuroscience, brain science, anatomy and physiology of the central nervous system, molecular and biochemical bases of information processing, behavioral neuroscience, biology of neuropsychiatric disorders, and applications to the clinical sciences and biomedical engineering.
Neuroscientists work with the brain and nervous system to understand their activities and anomalies.
The nervous system consists of the brain and spine, as well as a complex network of sensors and nerve tissue. This is what allows us to interact with the world around us, as the brain constantly sends and receives electrical signals that tell it what's going on. Neuroscientists observe these signals in order to understand what corresponds to what, and they can use that information for all kinds of interesting things.
As a discipline, neuroscience is fairly broad, containing topics that range from fetal brain development to treatment for nerve damage to dreams. The work of neuroscientists can contain elements of psychology, genetics, animal science, and more; if it senses or thinks, it's fair game. Some use neuroscience to diagnose psychological maladies, train artificial intelligence, or treat degenerative diseases; others may study pain, evolutionary cognition, or memory loss. The possibilities extend as far as the mind will allow them to roam.
Work in neuroscience may include...
- Differentiating the components of a nervous system
- Monitoring brain activity using specialized equipment
- Designing and conducting clinical trials
- Collecting, recording, and analyzing data
- Observing the relationships between physical elements and behaviors
If you're looking for neuroscientists, the first place to check is a medical research facility or university lab. Some work for private or government-run research institutes, and clinical neuroscientists are usually employed by hospitals and clinics. Some work in pharmaceutical or therapeutic development, and others write or teach on the subject. Occasionally, other employers show interest in neuroscientists, who may be brought on as consulting specialists for industry clients or nonprofit boards.
Many neuroscientists begin their studies at the undergraduate level with Bachelor's degree programs in biology, cognitive science, or neuroscience itself. Supporting coursework in cognitive science, chemistry, physics, psychology, and computer programming can prove helpful to students looking for additional context.
Practicing neuroscientists usually require a PhD or MD; some scientists find they can do more with both, and there are intensive joint degree programs that reflect this. Choosing to complete multiple advanced degrees can take a long time, especially with post-graduate residencies and fellowships, but for those truly committed to the field, they can open a lot of doors.
In many ways, the brain is the last unexplored frontier of biology; if you want to be part of the next big wave of understanding, a career in neuroscience might be the way to go.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians in neuroscience.
- The American Neurological Association (ANA) is a professional society dedicated to academic research in neurology.
- The Cognitive Neuroscience Society connects students, researchers, and professionals whose work centers on cognition.