Imagine being able to image the brain at the subcellular level with deep tissue in vivo functional imaging.
Imagine being able to transmit nerve signals to human organs via tiny implantable electronic devices if the natural connections are damaged.
It’s hard to imagine building tools that are powerful enough to begin mapping the brain’s trillions of neural connections.
Neuroscientific breakthroughs like these aren’t science fiction; they’re real. They’re just a small slice of the current cutting edge in the field, though. As far as known universe structures go, it’s hard to beat the human brain. We are only just now beginning to be able to use our brains to understand our own brains at this point in history. This is what neuroscience is all about: challenging, exciting, and fast-growing.
It’s possible to pursue a career in human brain research if you’re a self-starter, analytical, and creative. You need a degree in neuroscience to begin your career in this field. From specialization to career path, there are numerous steps and considerations to take into account. Find out everything you need to know about the most cutting-edge careers in neuroscience by reading on.
What is the field of neuroscience about?
As a branch of science, neuroscience (also known as neurobiology) focuses on the brain and nervous system. Understanding the complexity of neurons and neural circuits necessitates an interdisciplinary approach in neuroscience. The following fields of study are included in the field of neuroscience:
- Biology of the molecule
- Biology of development
- Modeling in mathematics
Neuroscientists are interested in the workings of the nervous system and the various systems and structures that make up the brain. Scientists look into how the brain works, as well as the biological underpinnings of various cognitive functions, such as:
There is a lot of math, science, and even philosophy involved in the study of neuroscience. It is possible for neuroscientists to focus on microscopic details, such as the dendrites of individual neurons, or to address more conceptual issues, such as how the brain generates awareness. It’s also common for researchers to examine a variety of health and development issues that can arise in the brain and nervous system, such as:
- A traumatic injury to the brain
- A condition known as Down syndrome.
- Tumors in the brain
Neuroscientists have the potential to make a huge difference in people’s lives through their research. Neuroscientists can make a significant difference in people’s lives through their work studying and treating human diseases and syndromes. New drugs, interventions, and therapies based on research into how the brain develops, functions, and changes can help people with debilitating and even life-threatening conditions live longer and better lives.
Is there any difference between neuroscience and neurology?
You’re in for a treat if you’re curious about the workings of the human brain. In both neuroscience and neurology, you will be able to spend your days investigating brain health and brain disorders, as well as improving the lives of people. As far as I know, there is no difference between neurology and neuroscience.
Research vs. clinical practice is the main difference between neuroscience and neurology, but there are other differences as well. ALS, Parkinson’s, hydrocephaly, and brain tumors are just a few of the conditions that neurologists treat. There are a number of subspecialties within neurology, but the most common is neurology, which focuses on disorders of the brain and nervous system. Neurosurgeons, another closely related profession, may collaborate with or refer patients to them.
A bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine or a related field like physiology is required to become a neurologist. An MCAT score of 700 or higher is required, as well as a four-year medical school program that includes a one-year internship and four years of residency training. After completing a residency, neurology fellowships and then board certification are common ways to fulfill this need.
In their work, neuroscientists also deal with people and the brain, but in a more purely investigative way. Clinical trials, empirical research, and field observations often bring them into contact with patients suffering from ALS, Parkinson’s, hydrocephaly, and brain tumors. Instead of hospitals and clinics, they tend to work in laboratories and offices. The work of neuroscientists adds to our knowledge of the brain. Neuroscientists also conduct research and develop treatments for brain and nervous system disorders, using the same tools and techniques they use in their clinical practice.
Neuroscientists, as opposed to neurologists, do not require a medical degree to practice. A bachelor’s degree in neuroscience (or a related field), a master’s degree in neuroscience, and a PhD in neuroscience are all required to become a neuroscientist. A fellowship in neurology is typically the next step after this.
Where Can You Find Information on Different Subfields of Neuroscience?
Comparatively, the field of neuroscience is young, but it is growing rapidly, and there are numerous subfields within it. Neuroscientists can specialize in a wide range of fields, such as:
As the field expands, so do the number of specializations and sub-specializations. However, the field of neuroscience can be broadly divided into four main branches: behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, and developmental neuroscience, respectively. There may be a lot of overlap between the applications of each of these disciplines.
It is the study of how the brain influences our actions. Decision-making, language production, movement, and socialization all fall under this umbrella. Biological psychology, biopsychology, or psychobiology are some of the names given to it.
Brain structure and function are examined in cognitive neuroscience research to learn more about how thoughts are generated and experienced. This covers a wide range of topics, such as the mechanics of memory retrieval in the brain. Subjects’ brain activity can be monitored by researchers in this field while they carry out various tasks. The principles of cognitive psychology and psychiatry are being integrated into the field of cognitive neuroscience.
In computational neuroscience, the brain’s computations are studied. Computer simulations and models are used by researchers in this field of neuroscience to better understand brain functions. Various aspects of mathematics, physics, computer programming, artificial intelligence, and other related fields are all part of this field.
It is the field of developmental neuroscience that focuses on how the nervous system and the brain change and grow from infancy to old age. Developmental disorders like down syndrome and microcephaly can be better understood through this research. Neuroplasticity and neural regeneration can also be learned from this study. Anatomical physiology and genetics meet in this branch of biology to form an interdisciplinary whole.
How do I get into Neuroscience?
Because of the complexity of neuroscientific research and the need for highly trained and dedicated professionals, the path to neuroscientist is a difficult one. Before you can delve into the intricate workings of the human brain, you’ll need years of serious study under your belt. There are now more high-quality neuroscience degree programs available than ever before, and the path to becoming a neuroscientist has become more clear and accessible as the field has grown and matured.
A bachelor’s degree in neuroscience is a good place to start if you want to pursue a career in the field. For example, you can learn about topics like emotional neuroscience, cellular and molecular neurobiology and brain imaging as well as social neuroscience through a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. There are numerous bachelor’s degree programs in neuroscience available across the country, but a degree in neuroscience isn’t a prerequisite for working in the field. Biology, psychology, physiology, chemistry, and human anatomy are just some of the subjects you’ll need to cover in your studies. Some examples of bachelor’s degree programs that meet these requirements:
- Science of the mind
It is not uncommon for students with a bachelor’s degree in a neuroscience-related field to pursue advanced degrees in neuroscience after completing additional prerequisites. At this stage, lab-based research is essential for building a competitive record that will help you gain admission to graduate school.
You can apply to graduate school in neuroscience once you’ve completed your undergraduate degree and met any prerequisites. An advanced degree in neuroscience will be required for the majority of job opportunities in the field. Completion of a core neuroscience curriculum, electives, lab rotations and clinical rotations are all necessary to achieve this goal. A master’s degree in neuroscience is an option, but it is not a precondition for pursuing a doctorate in the field. Neuroscience PhD students learn in the classroom, in the field, and in their thesis research.
Courses in neuroscience and related fields, such as mathematical modeling, pharmacology, cellular biology, data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), are taught in lecture format. Cellular, molecular, and developmental neuroscience, computational and systems neuroscience, and behavioral and cognitive neuroscience are the three main focus areas of a PhD in neuroscience. Allowing students to focus on a specific area of study is one of the benefits of electives.
Neuroscience labs teach students how to conduct lab-based research and apply their knowledge of neuroscience. Students who participate in rotations have the opportunity to learn about a wide range of neuroscience research, which can aid them in deciding on a topic for their thesis research.
In the final years of a neuroscience PhD program, a student is expected to complete an Original Research-Based Thesis under the supervision of a thesis advisor and Thesis Committee. As a result, it is likely that the research will be focused on a very specific area of neuroscience. The findings should be submitted to a scientific journal for review and publication.
Every semester, students learn how to not only analyze and present the most recent scientific literature but also to design and conduct their own original research projects throughout the course of the program. The American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, or the Society for Neuroscience are just a few of the organizations they might attend and present at. A typical neuroscience Ph.D. program lasts between four and six years. Typical postdoctoral fellowships for neuroscience PhDs last two years before they begin looking for a job as a neuroscientist.
What Classes Do I Need to Take for a Neuroscience Degree?
We’ve already established that a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience gives students a solid grounding in the scientific and mathematical principles that underpin the study of neuroscience. These core requirements will be applicable to classes such as:
- Organometallic Chemisty
- Physics for the study of living organisms
- Programming a computer
Neuroscience classes at the undergraduate level are designed to give students a broad understanding of the field’s foundations and to keep them up to date on current research. A few electives in a topic of particular interest will be available to you as well. The following are typical first-year neuroscience courses:
- Neuroscience as a whole
- Neuroscience of the mind
- Development of the brain
- Disorders of the nervous system
- Computerized Reasoning
To earn a master’s or doctoral degree in neuroscience, you’ll have the option of taking electives in fields such as computer programming and electrical engineering. These will cover advanced and narrowly focused topics, allowing you to deepen your knowledge in a particular area of neuroscience. If you want to pursue a career in neuroscience, you’ll need to use this information to inform your thesis work and lay the groundwork for your professional path. Graduate students are prone to anxiety because of the variety of classes they take, such as:
- Systems Neuroscience: Advanced Concepts and Methods
- Computerized Neural Networks
- Methods of Functional MRI
- Cognitive Neuroscience of the Visual Image
- Molecular, cellular, and developmental aspects of the nervous system
- Human Movement: Its Neuronal Basis
- Architecture of the brain
- Neurorepair and Neuroplasticity
- Neurocomputing and Computational Engineering
What Types of Jobs Can I Get With a Neuroscience Degree?
While neurologists see patients and supervise medical interventions in clinical settings, neuroscientists are generally in charge of scientific research. They may spend their time in the field collecting data, in the lab conducting experiments, or in an office performing analyses. Aside from the actual research itself, they are also in charge of a wide range of administrative responsibilities such as running labs and supervising research teams, as well as giving presentations to colleagues and the public.
Depending on the nature of your work, your responsibilities may vary. Professors are expected to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals on a regular basis, to serve on committees, and to serve as mentors to students. If you work for a government agency, you may have to devote more time to discussing research applications and disseminating findings to the general public. Neuroscientists may work in any of the following settings:
Pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs to treat the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for example. These businesses are motivated by a desire to learn more about the efficacy and safety of their products as well as the search for new, more effective, and less expensive drugs to treat disorders of the nervous system and brain.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS), ALS, and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are all diseases that can be treated with stem cell therapy and electroceuticals from biotech companies. Other biotech firms are also experimenting with ways to better understand the brain’s structure, function, and development. This is a fast-paced and potentially lucrative career path, with a lot of room for growth.
National Institutes of Health and Environmental Protection and Food and Drug Administration are examples of government institutions (FDA). Government-employed neuroscientists have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of many people through the use of their research in policymaking. Neuroscientists at government research institutes are particularly interested in issues such as the public impact of addiction and the best treatment for PTSD caused by military service.
A large number of neuroscientists are employed by both public and private universities. Neuroscience professors who have been in the field for a long time have a lot of freedom when it comes to their research. Teaching and mentoring students is just one of the many duties that academics are expected to perform. They are also expected to secure funding for their research and to publish in peer-reviewed journals on an ongoing basis.
What are the Career Opportunities for a Neuroscience Graduate?
A career in neuroscience has never been more exciting. An aging population, an increase in chronic diseases, an increase in addictions and other disorders, and an increasing reliance on pharmaceuticals all mean that demand for neuroscientists is on the rise.. A career in cutting-edge fields such as optogenetics, electropharmaceuticals, or deep neural imaging may be a good fit for someone who is driven by a desire to constantly push the boundaries of knowledge.
In part because the role encompasses so many different job functions and titles, there is little information available on the specific job market for neuroscientists (such as lead researcher, neuroanatomist, computational neuroscientist, professor of neurobiology etc.). There is, however, a positive outlook for medical scientists (which includes neuroscientists, neurologists, and clinical medical researchers) as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth for medical scientists is expected to be 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the national average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It’s likely that the mortality rate for neuroscientists will be even higher, given the aforementioned factors pertaining specifically to brain health.
One of the most common motivations for studying neuroscience is the desire to push the boundaries of human knowledge and make a difference in society. However, a degree in neuroscience can lead to a high salary and a rewarding career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical scientists made an average of $84,810 per year in 2018. Pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies’ medical scientists earned an average salary of $115,450. Researchers and developers made an average salary of $90,910 per year. Because the vast majority of neuroscientists work in one of these two areas, the overall average salary for neuroscientists is likely to be in the $100,000 range. According to ZipRecruiter’s data, neuroscientists can expect to earn an average salary of $115,833 per year.