Are Neuroscientists doctors? (Find out here!)

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “Are neuroscientists doctors?” and discover the neuroscientists’ universe, how they contribute to research and what makes them special. 

Are neuroscientists doctors?

Yes, Neuroscientists can be doctors. Neuroscientists have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. They can be psychologists, biochemistries, scientists, physicians.

Our brain defines us, processes the world around us, and determines how we respond to stimuli. In the brain, processes such as falling in love with someone, being able to recognize yourself, or having a smell that reminds you of someone take place. 

But it also has dysfunctions caused by diseases, injuries or developmental deficiencies that affect the organ that even make us lose the sense of proprioception or our ability to communicate. All these processes have to do with neuroscience.

‘’Physicians’’ and ‘’Doctors’’, the same thing?

Before discussing if neuroscientists are doctors, it’s important to stop at two terms that can be confusing.

A physician is a medical doctor, which gets into college for a four-year Bachelor degree; this can be considered as their pre-med education. After they continue their studies for 2-5 year specialization, they can get one into specific fields of medicine (dermatology, ophthalmology, neurology, etc.). 

Physicians have completed almost eight years of medical school, but doctors with specialization have gone through 13 years of studying.

In contrast, a “doctor” is also appointed to anyone with a doctorate degree. Dentists, PhDs in the humanities, lawyers can all use the term doctor for themselves. 

Now we will continue to discover the neuroscientists’ universe.

What’s neuroscience?

The term ‘’neuroscience’’ is recent. It has spread in connection with the therapeutic revolution that psychopharmacology brought about in the field of psychiatry and with the introduction of new techniques that have advanced knowledge about the central nervous system.

It’s a field of a science that studies the nervous system and its structure, function, evolutionary aspects, biochemistry, pharmacology and pathology. It also deals with studying how its different elements interact, giving rise to the biological bases of cognition and behavior. 

Lately, the application of advanced technologies in neurosciences is also being studied.

Neuroscience has traditionally been classified as a subdivision of biology, but actually, it’s an interdisciplinary science closely related to other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology or medicine.

What are some different areas of neuroscience?

Neuroscience is a fairly broad field of research that ranges from molecular to linguistic studies. Here we point out the main areas of neuroscience:

  • Developmental neuroscience describes how the nervous system develops and what underlying mechanisms exist in neuronal development.
  • Cognitive neuroscience studies the human’s higher cognitive functions and their neural basis.
  • Molecular and cellular neuroscience, study of neurons, including their shape and physiological properties like proteins and genes.
  • Neurogenetics focuses on inherited changes to neurons and certain genetic diseases.
  • Behavioral neuroscience focuses on the study of neurobiological (neurochemical, psychopharmacological and electrophysiological) aspects of behavior.
  • Clinical neuroscience explores the evaluation, rehabilitation and non-pharmacological therapeutic options for the treatment of patients affected with neurological, neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Neurophysiology analyzes the relationship between the brain and its functions.
  • Neuroengineering uses engineering techniques to understand, replace, repair, or enhance neural systems.
  • Neurolinguistics studies which neural mechanisms in the brain control the acquisition, understanding and utterance of language.

It seems that neuroscientists have a lot of choices, right?

How to be a Neuroscientist?

Nowadays there are many ways to start a career in Neuroscience and all good ones. The new degrees make it possible to combine undergraduate and postgraduate training, modeling highly specialized and interesting individual careers. 

Careers in the Biomedical, Biology or Psychology areas are classic entries. But Mathematics, Physics or Sociology, to give a few examples, are too. 

The stronger the previous scientific training, the better the result will be. This is not how it begins, but how it ends.

Okay, now how do I become a neuroscientist? Neuroscience is a specialty that you obtain in postgraduate degrees.

It’s essential to have at least a previous related academic degree, as all postgraduate courses require it.

People with the following academic degrees can work in the area of neuroscience:

  • Psychology 
  • Graduates in biochemistry
  • Bachelor of Science
  • General physicians
  • Neurologists

In neuroscience there’s a lot of opportunities since it’s a branch of science with a lot of potential yet to be exploited, and professionals from many disciplines participate, not necessarily medicine, biology or psychology. 

However, as in all good art, you need to be professional, something that includes the university educational process legally speaking.

What Does a Doctor of Neuroscience Do?

As we have mentioned, neuroscientists conduct the study and research of the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the nerves cells, spinal cord, and, of course, the brain.

Studies of the nervous system can focus on the cellular level, or they can focus on a systemic level (behavioral or cognitive studies).

The study of the neuro system’s diseases that affect the quality of life of people such Parkinson, Alzheimer, sclerosis, etc. is an important part of neuroscience. 

Neuroscientists carry out their research studies in public or private institutions, as well as in universities.

Some common tasks of neuroscientists are:

  • Carry out experiments.
  • Developing instruments and processes neural data.
  • Explore new treatments for neurological disorders.
  • Collaborate with physicians to conduct experimental studies: 

What responsibilities do neuroscientists have?

  • Lead teams of researchers and students.
  • Remaining up-to-date on the developmental, computational, medical, molecular, cellular, and functional aspects of the nervous system.
  • Using equipment to monitor brain and nerve activity.
  • Creating medical and pharmaceutical solutions and working with patients during clinical trials.
  • Creating  requirements for manufactured drugs.
  • Diagnosing neurological or psychiatric disorders. 

In short, like most professions, being a neuroscientist involves multiple talents and skills. Neuroscientists must be: Writers, accountants, fundraisers, electricians, teachers, travel agents, artists!

Regardless of their area, neuroscientists also share their research and results with the goal of educating others and keeping them updated, publishing their findings in scientific journals, interviews,  conferences, and reporting the progress of their experiments to their employers and the scientific community.

Neuroscientist Industry

Neuroscientific knowledge is increasingly valued in different areas of human activity. Neuroscientists do research in universities, research centers, biotech or pharmaceutical industries. But they also work as psychologists, neuropsychiatrists, get involved in advertising, communication, the press, teaching or companies. 

So, you finally have your Ph.D in neuroscience. What ‘s next?

Many of the people who finish their graduate studies decide to continue their training in laboratories where they can learn new techniques or learn new areas of neuroscience.

Now, after feeling that you are fully trained and qualified, it is time to find a ”real job”. Neuroscientists can find work in:

  • Government, in laboratories.
  • Universities, as a teacher or researcher.
  • Industry, in biotechnology, pharmaceutical or medical instruments companies.
  • Hospital or Medical Center, as a clinician and/or researcher with neurological disorders patients.

Salary

It’s difficult to establish the annual salary of a neuroscientist, because it depends on the area in which they work. Their average annual salary can be equated to that of a biochemist or biophysicist, of around € 70,000 on average.

Colleges and universities paid the lowest median salary at $60,000 per year. While the best paid are those who work with the pharmaceutical and research industry, with an average annual salary from $ 90,000 to $ 150,000

Undoubtedly, the pay for neuroscientists is vast and it all depends on the research area, experience, and workplace.

What’s the difference between neuroscientists and neurologists?

We must keep this in mind: Neurologists are physicians. Neuroscientists are researchers.

As we have pointed out, a neuroscientist usually has a Doctorate in Neuroscience, then he can dedicate himself to biomedical research for research centers and health entities, investigate in a neuroscience laboratory or work for companies in the pharmaceutical or biotechnological sector. 

The careers are different for each of them.

Neuroscientist

Neuroscience exists as a doctorate in some universities, which is usually accessed after having completed a Master in Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine, Pharmacology, Veterinary, Advanced Genetics and Biotechnology.

Neurologist

You become a neurologist after completing the six courses of the Degree in Medicine and passing the 360 credits of the degree. Next, the medical speciality in Neurology is completed, which lasts four years, and ends with the training of the MIR (Internal Resident Physician).

After passing 10 courses, the degree in Neurology is obtained. Then you can continue working at the center where you have completed the MIR or have your own office. Training can also be completed with a master’s degree or course in neurology.

Scientific contribution of Neuroscience

Neurosciences include practically all areas of knowledge and each one has made important contributions to different thematic areas, of which, it’s worth highlighting some such as: 

Development, aging and neuronal death; cellular and molecular plasticity; perception, psychophysics and movement; higher mental functions (memory and learning, cognition, emotions, language, states of consciousness); biological bases of psychopathologies; psychopharmacology; approach and implementation of models in Neurosciences.

So, are neuroscientists doctors?

Neuroscientists are doctors because they have a Ph.D in Neuroscience.  But, not all neuroscientists are medical doctors.

The nervous system is the biological basis of behavior, and of life itself. The brain sends signals throughout the body to perform tasks necessary for everyday life.

Neuroscience deals with the more complex functions of this organ (brain), such as emotions and consciousness, relying on the main concepts from the various disciplines such as biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics.

Neuroscientists must go through arduous academic training to become the incredible researchers that they are.

They work day by day to innovate the field of neurology to find answers to diseases that are relevant to the nervous system.

Would you like to be part of them?

FAQs: Are neuroscientists doctors? 

Do neuroscientists go to medical school?

Neuroscientists scientists who don’t necessarily have a medical degree. However, they are doctorates in neuroscience. 

How long does it take to become a neuroscientist?

First of all, you need to earn a Bachelor’s Degree which takes 4 years. Then, you earn a Master’s Degree (2 additional years) and finally, the PhD or PsyD programs take about 2 – 4 years.  To sump up, you need around 9 years to become a neuroscientist.

What type of doctor specializes in the brain?

Both neurosurgeon and a neurologist specializes in the treatment of medical problems affecting the central nervous system, including the brain.

Should I get a PhD in neuroscience?

A PhD in neuroscience can add more intellectual freedom, it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about neurological and cognitive processes.

How long is PhD in neuroscience?

The program typically takes between 3-4 years to complete.

In this brief guide answered the question “Are neuroscientist doctors?” and discovered the neuroscientists’ universe, how they contribute to research and what makes them special. 

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References

McKenzie, R. (2011, April 29). Neuroscientist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from Study.com website: https://study.com/articles/Neuroscientist_Job_Description_Duties_and_Requirements.html

Neuroscience For Kids. (2020). Retrieved September 14, 2020, from Washington.edu website: https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html

The Neuroscientist: SAGE Journals. (2020). Retrieved September 14, 2020, from SAGE Journals website: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/nro

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