Do Neurologists Study the Brain?

This article will answer the question, “Do Neurologists study the brain?” It will cover in detail what neurology is, and how it is different from neuroscience and neurosurgery. In the end, it will discuss some frequently asked questions.

Do Neurologists Study the Brain?

Yes, neurologists study the brain. They treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord. They also treat diseases of the peripheral nerves and muscles. They treat conditions such as epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease.

What is Neurology?

Neurologists are specialised physicians who look into the non-surgical management of several nervous system disorders for both the central and peripheral nervous systems. If you’re into surgeries, neurosurgery is the speciality that you should be looking into. 

Neurologists are responsible for managing all neurological problems ranging from headaches, and migraines, to more catastrophic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Strokes, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

It is widely believed neurologists are involved more in the diagnoses of conditions and don’t play a big role in the treatment of the same. There are various conditions that have not progressed much when it comes to modern medicines. However, there has been tremendous growth in the research of neurological conditions and therapies for the same are increasing in number. 

A neurosurgeon assesses, diagnoses and treats conditions that affect your body’s nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and all of your nerves that extend from your spinal cord.

Neurologists work along with neurosurgeons to help carry out and interpret tests required for brain disorders. Neurologists help family members and provide support. 

Who is a neuroscientist?

Neuroscientists are known as medical research scientists who tend to study the nervous system. The nervous system is composed of the brain, spinal cord and nerve cells in the body. 

Neuroscience is considered to be a complex field of science which includes studying molecular and developmental biology, physiology, and anatomy along with other subjects.

Neuroscientists use this knowledge to study the nervous system and understand the ways to better the functioning of the brain in terms of its effectiveness. 

Since neuroscience is a diverse and large field, neuroscientists choose to focus on specialising in certain areas of study. This enables them to narrow in on the research in areas that interest them. For instance, if they choose to become a neurologist, they can work with patients who have conditions of epilepsy, strokes, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Neurologists versus Neurosurgeons

Neurologists specialise in treating conditions that stem from neurological problems, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, peripheral nerve disorders, GBS, and ALS. 

Whereas neurosurgeons focus on brain injuries, removal of tumours, and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, both neurologists and neurosurgeons work closely because both have specialised knowledge of the nervous system.

While both of them can diagnose and treat neurological conditions, only neurosurgeons can perform surgery. In fact, sometimes orthopaedic surgeries also involve/overlap with neurosurgery when the patient has complaints of spine pain. To know more about how to become a neurologist, click here. 

How Competitive Is Neurology?

When it comes to competitiveness, neurology is less competitive as it ranks at number 16 out of the 22 specializations that exist. The average score one needs in Step 1 is 232 and for Step 2CK is 245. 

When should I visit a Neurologist?

It is a good time to see a neurologist if you have the following symptoms:

Dizziness

If you feel like your head is spinning (vertigo) or that you have difficulty keeping your balance intact, it could be a sign of a serious underlying condition.

Numbness or tingling

If numbness or tingling, especially if it is occurring only on one side of the body, it could be an early sign of a stroke or another serious condition. If the numbness occurs suddenly, it is best to book an appointment with a neurologist.

Movement problems

If you have difficulty in walking, shuffling your feet, or there are tremors and unintentional jerks in your muscles, it could all point to problems in the nervous system.

Memory problems

If you notice your memory worsening, your personality changing, and you keep mixing up words then it could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic or severe headaches

Getting migraine headaches is a reason enough to make an appointment with a neurologist. This should, however, be especially done if the symptoms are associated with a particular neurological deficit.

Chronic pain

When you experience chronic pain that cannot be ruled out or managed by your physician, it is time to see a neurologist as it can be due to other underlying problems.

What are the uses of radiological tools that are used by Neurologists?

Neurosurgeries are successful because they use an array of radiology tools. These tools are used for the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. They are as follows:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed Tomography (CT) is a computer-assisted X-ray technique. This creates 3D “slices” of the brain and the spinal cord. These are called tomographic images and give the clinician better and more detailed information than conventional x-rays. 

To form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient, these slices are collected by the machine’s computer, they are digitally “stacked” together to form a three-dimensional (3D) image of the patient.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic and radio waves to generate high-quality pictures of the brain, especially soft tissues. The images are highly detailed.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses radioactive tracers in order to evaluate the metabolic function of the nervous system.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) 

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique used for mapping the brain. This is done by recording the signals nerves send each other with the help of magnetic receptors.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

In this method, scalp EEG represents the aggregates of post-synaptic currents of millions of neurons. There are two types of brain activities that are reflected through the recorded EEG signals:  

The spontaneous EEG  is one that has been used in a clinical setting for a long time and is usually used to evaluate seizure disorders and reflects neuronal responses that occur in the absence of behavioural. This kind of process is yet to be used in cognitive neuroscience research. (Williamson, Kaufman, Lu, Wang, & Karron, 1997). 

Event-related potentials (ERPs) are associated with specific thoughts or stimuli. The amplitudes of ERPs tend to range from low, less than a microvolt to several microvolts, compared to tens of microvolts for spontaneous EEG. 

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

The fMRI is an indicator of neural activity that detects the amount of blood flow in each brain region. The images are taken in the form of cross-sectional “slices” that are obtained as the magnetic field is passed across the brain. 

These images in the form of slices are taken at a rapid rate and are imposed on images of the brain structure. These show how brain activities change over time. 

Conclusion

This article answers the question, “Do Neurologists study the brain?” It covers in detail what neurology is, and how it is different from neuroscience and neurosurgery. In the end, it will discuss some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: Do Neurologists study the brain?

Do neurologists go to medical school?

In order to become a neurologist, it is important to attend medical school and graduate with either a DO or MD medical degree. After this, you will complete a year as an intern in internal medicine and about three years of residency in neurology. To know more, click here.

What is the relationship between depression and neurological problems?

Depression and neurological problems are interrelated with one another. Individuals who suffer from depression may also suffer from other neurological problems such as forgetfulness, sleep-related problems, and other neurological challenges. Thus, there are many treatment options available for treating depression while taking neurological problems into consideration.

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures in people that suffer from it. This disorder results when there is abnormal brain activity. Seizures can involve the contractions of involuntary muscles and are also characterised by feelings of confusion, or periods of blanking out during the seizure. There are various effective medications that can help in reducing or preventing epilepsy.

References

Williamson SJ, Kaufman L, Lu ZL, Wang JZ, Karron D. Study of human occipital alpha rhythm: The alphon hypothesis and alpha suppression. Int J Psychophysiol. 1997;26(1-3):63–76.

https://www.mayo.edu/research/departments-divisions/department-neurology/overview

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