What A levels do you need for Neuroscience?

This article will help answer the question of what A levels do you need for neuroscience? The article will then discuss what neuroscience is and its various subfields. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

If you are interested in pursuing neuroscience, you will first have to study neuroscience, as it is the core of all these subjects. After studying neuroscience, students will be able to specialize in any of these fields, if they wish to do so.  

But, in order to do that, it is essential to study A Levels and do so by picking the correct subject combinations.  

What A levels do you need for Neuroscience?

An A Level usually requires two subjects. When it comes to neuroscience, both these subjects must be scientific disciplines. Specifically, from the two subjects of science, the first one should be biology, human biology and/or chemistry. 

The other one should necessarily be a subject from biology, chemistry, psychology, geology, geography, human biology, physiology, electronics, or maths. It should be kept in mind that these things are subject to the universities’ rules and policies.

Neuroscience is what academics refer to as a “hard science”. Hard sciences like chemistry, physics and biology usually work with concrete things that can be quantified and measured. 

However, as opposed to some hard sciences which are also natural sciences- that is, fields of study that focus on understanding the physical world we live in neuroscience is not a natural science.

However, neuroscience is considered a subdivision or emerging from the field of biology. This is why neuroscience is also often classified as a life science: scientific disciplines dedicated to the study of the human mind.

The reason why the first science must be biology, human biology or chemistry is obvious- because neuroscience focuses on studying the human brain, a very essential and complex organ of the human body. On The other hand, chemistry helps us understand various chemicals, chemical reactions and as well as how chemicals affect the human body and brain. 

Moreover, we have learned that the brain communicates with the help of neurons, which pass sodium and potassium ions over each synaptic interval to be able to send messages to and from each other. This explains the above requirement.

The second science could be a hard science like biology, chemistry, human biology, physics or physiology. The reason for that is that neuroscience studies the neurons in the brain. The neurons communicate with each other using electrochemical impulses. 

These electrochemical impulses are studied using physical methods like an electroencephalogram (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), etc. The other options for the second science are natural sciences like geography and geology. These two subjects also have components of chemistry and the basic principles of science. 

Additionally, students aiming for A Levels could also go for formal sciences like Math and electronics, or a life science like psychology. This is because mathematical principles, techniques and formulae are used to measure brain signals on electric devices. 

These brain signals sent from one neuron to another also affect our external behaviour and emotions.

Thus, we understand from the requirements mentioned above that to go for A Levels in neuroscience, one must have to opt for the hard science or natural science that is biology and chemistry, which must be the first subject. 

The other science can be another hard science or natural science, or it could be a formal science like Math or a life science like psychology. Make sure that when picking subjects for your A Levels, you’re choosing from the options mentioned above. 

What is a neuroscientist?

It is important to understand what neuroscience is and what a neuroscientist does. The word “neuroscience” stems from the Greek word, νεῦρον (neûron) which means “string, nerve”. 

As the name suggests, a neuroscientist focuses on the internal workings of the brain and tries to unravel the mysteries within it. Since neuroscience or “science of the brain” is such a broad term, and the brain is the subject of focus for so many overlapping areas of research study, you may have guessed that neuroscientific study is multidisciplinary in nature.

In fact, within neuroscience itself, there are at least 7 or 8 branches, including, but not limited to social neuroscience, developmental neuroscience and computational neuroscience. 

Each of these fields under neuroscience shines a light on the brain, along with other regions of the nervous system, establishing connections between those regions and other areas of psychology, behaviour and some aspects of our physiology. 

As mentioned, since the fields overlap so much, they are constantly learning from fields adjacent to them and also contributing to other fields. In a way, advancements in one field of neuroscience lead to progress in other fields as well.

A neurologist or neuroscientist conducts studies on the neurons and other nerves within the central nervous system (CNS), that is the brain and spinal cord. It also studies the other nervous systems within our body, governed by the central nervous system. 

A neuroscientist also studies the various illnesses of the brain caused due to the building blocks within it, that is the neurons, and how these neurons communicate and pass information to each other and to the organs and regions of the body outside the brain and spinal cord.

Some major subfields of cognitive neuroscience are cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, social neuroscience and developmental neuroscience. While cognitive neuroscience focuses on the neural underpinnings of various thought and perceptions related processes, whereas clinical neuroscience places emphasis on the illnesses and mental disorders related to the nervous system.

Social neuroscience, as the name probably suggests, decodes how the brain processes social interactions and emotions. It also studies how these social processes contribute to or stem from evolutionary processes, as human beings are extremely social beings and must communicate with each other in order to survive. 

Affective neuroscience is the field of neuroscience that studies how thoughts, feelings and emotions are affected by the neurons in the brain. 

What are the areas of applied speciality for neuroscientists?

The various fields in which neuroscientists can do their majors, or specialise are as follows:

  • Developmental Neuroscience is a field that studies the development of the brain through different stages of life, and the changes that occur in the brain as a result of ageing.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience focuses on how the brain creates memories, language, and problem-solving abilities. It also focuses on understanding how the brain uses the same.
  • Molecular and Cellular neuroscience focuses on certain molecules and cells in the brain that determine the functioning of neurons.
  • Neurogenetics studies how the genes inherited by the individual affect the brain and the body by influencing changes in the neurons.
  • Clinical neuroscience deals with medical diagnoses and treatment of disorders of the brain and the nervous system. It also helps in the management f the same.
  • Neurophysiology focuses only on the nervous system and its functioning.
  • Sensory neuroscience studies how the nervous system processes and use sensory information received by the body.

Conclusion

This article helps answer the question of what A levels do you need for neuroscience? The article then discusses what neuroscience is and its various subfields. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: WHAT A levels do you need for Neuroscience?

How do you pronounce neuroscience?

Neu·ro·sci·ence or ˌn(y)o͝orōˈsīəns/ is the correct pronunciation of neuroscience.

How did cognitive neuroscience emerge as a field?

Cognitive neuroscience is considered to be a new field in both neuroscience and psychology. In the 1970s, Michael Gazzaniga, who was a neuroscientist and George Miller, who was a cognitive psychologist, pioneered the way toward cognitive neuroscience.

Are neuroscientists also medical research scientists?

Neuroscientists are known as medical research scientists who tend to study the nervous system. The nervous system is comprised 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.

What is biopsychology?

Biopsychology is one branch of psychology that is used to analyse how behaviours, thoughts, and feelings are influenced by the brain, its neurotransmitters, and other aspects of our biology. Biopsychologists are related to other areas of study such as comparative psychology and evolutionary psychology. Biopsychologists further study how our biological processes interact with emotions, cognitions, and other mental processes. 

References

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2009). The cognitive neurosciences. MIT press.

Miller, G. A. (1989). George A. Miller. Stanford University Press.

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