What careers are there in neuroscience?

This article answers the question “What careers are there in neuroscience?” It will understand neuroscience and its related careers in detail. The article will also shed light on how neuroscientists study the brain. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

What careers are there in neuroscience?

A neuroscientist can build their career under several subspecialties mentioned below:

Developmental Neuroscience

Developmental neuroscience studies how the brain develops through different phases of life. It also studies what changes take place in the brain as a consequence of ageing. 

It is because of developmental science that we know how forgetfulness and volume loss of the brain is a product of growing old. 

Cognitive Neuroscience 

Cognitive Neuroscience has its focuses on how the brain is able to make memories, learn the language, and engage in problem-solving. It also focuses on understanding how the brain uses the same. In a way, cognitive neuroscience focuses on how these functions of the brain are used for the survival of the organism. 

Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 

This focuses on the several molecules and cells in the brain which work on determining how the neurons function in the brain. 

Neurogenetics 

Neurogenetics focuses on studying how the genes inherited by the individual can have an effect on their brain and their body by exerting influence on their moods and behaviours. 

Clinical neuroscience

Clinical neuroscience is said to deal with medical diagnoses and treatment of several disorders of the brain and the nervous system including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, etc. Clinical neuroscience also aims at helping neuroscientists to manage the same disorders.

Neurophysiology 

Neurophysiology has its focuses on how the nervous system is structured and functions. 

Sensory neuroscience 

Sensory neuroscience helps in the understanding of the different processes of the nervous system and how the body uses all the incoming sensory information to it.

We will look at some of these fields in detail below. But, let us first understand what is neuroscience. 

Neuroscientists are interested in studying the nervous system. They are also referred to as medical research scientists. The nervous system is comprised of:

  • The brain
  • The spinal cord, and
  • Nerve cells in the body

A neuroscientist is an individual who studies the complex field of the brain including the molecular and developmental biology of the nervous system, the physiology of the nervous system along with the anatomy of the same.

Neuroscientists use the knowledge acquired about the functioning of the nervous system to better understand how it functions and how the brain can be used effectively. It also assesses whether the treatments available are efficient to treat brain and nervous system disorders.

Neuroscience is considered to be a diverse and larger-than-life field. This is the reason why neuroscientists may want to narrow down and focus on specialising in one of the areas of neuroscience mentioned above. 

Thus, they usually narrow down on the research areas that intrigue them the most. These can include becoming a neurologist and choosing to work with patients who have conditions of epilepsy, strokes, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Behavioural Neuroscience

The area of neuroscience that helps in gathering insight on the assessment, understanding, and empowerment to make predictions about human behaviour in relation to the brain is known as behavioural neuroscience. In behavioural neuroscience, neuroscientists are able to use the array of tools available to understand the issues concerning human behaviour.

The job of behavioural neuroscientists is to do detailed and nuanced research on topics of addiction, ageing, sleep, trauma, neurocognitive disorders, neurological disorders, immune system disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even psychotic disorders. They try and understand what are the neurobiological underpinnings of these disorders and their resulting behaviours.

Behavioural neuroscientists are equipped with an everchanging and improved set of neuromechanical machines that help them understand the concerning issues of the brain. These brain imaging techniques help them uncover what are the physical changes in the brain which can be observed when someone is on drugs and is trying to make decisions, learn, or control certain behaviours.

They also try and study the effective and efficient treatments of brain and nervous system disorders and give their feedback on the same after thorough studies.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Humans are one of the most complicated species who are enabled with even more complicated thought processes. Humans can show a clear learning of instances, memories of events, and egocentric as well as other-centric thinking. Humans also have critical thinking. How these processes function and what influences them is the key area of interest for cognitive neuroscientists.

Cognitive neuroscience is focused on studying human cognition and thought processes. They aim to find the biological underpinnings for cognitive processes like the ones mentioned above. They help in determining the biological functions that the brain and the nervous system is equipped with. 

Cognitive neuroscience focuses on understanding the reasons behind human emotions, rational thinking, memory processes, disorders of the brain, forgetfulness, attention processes, perception, turn-taking behaviours, reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving.

Thanks to both Michael Gazzaniga (neuroscientist) and George Miller (cognitive psychologist) who came together in the 1970s and started considering a new field combing both neuroscience and psychology. They are the pioneers of cognitive neuroscience.

The disorders that require medications to be treated are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Personality Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorder

Emerging Fields of Neuroscience

Neuroscience has made tonnes of leaps in the past few years and has a number of promising areas emerging under it. Some of them are affective neuroscience. Affective neuroscience aims to study the role of the brain in the processing and production of feelings as well as emotions.

The field of affective neuroscience aims to understand the effects of thoughts, feelings, and emotions on neurons and the exact role of the brain to produce them. 

Affective neuroscience focuses on the brain processes that influence empathy, anger, disgust, and happiness. It focuses on how these emotions can influence our decision-making and problem-solving.

What are the Skills Required to be a Neuroscientist?

Understanding and knowing the brain is exciting because it can help us understand how good habits are formed and how to break bad habits. However, in order to be a good neuroscientist, the following characteristics are essential to have:

  • A keen interest and curiosity about the different aspects of the nervous system. Understanding what can and does go wrong in disorders of the nervous system and having a keen determination in finding relevant treatments for the same
  • Strong research skills in order to be able to design, implement, and analyse the results of the research
  • Critical thinking
  • Good communication skills to be able to interact with participants of research, their family members, and clients who you will have to work within the industry
  • Good scientific writing abilities to be able to contribute to various publications including journals, magazines, and scientific manuals
  • A will to work towards computer and programming skills in order to be able to do statistical analysis on software such as SPSS, R, and PSPP
  • Patience in order to deal with a huge number of data
  • Courage and ability to work with autonomy and independence
  • Being able to be cooperative to work in project and research teams
  • Motivation to keep reading upcoming and newer discoveries to stay away from relevant trends
  • Having excellent time-management skills
  • Being organised and conscientious

What is a neuropsychologist? 

These are psychologists that specialise in understanding how behaviours interact with the brain. Neuropsychologist helps understand the relationship between the brain and several other behaviours that people engage in. 

The neuropsychologist also tries to understand how disorders of the brain and the nervous system can affect the behaviour and cognitive functioning of an individual. These are individuals who have a doctorate in psychology and are trained in neuropsychology. 

Their role is to understand how systems of the brain affect behaviour and thinking, as well as how several structures of the brain function. Neuropsychologists often work in clinical settings. They can also work in hospitals. 

Conclusion

This article answers the question “What careers are there in neuroscience?” It understands neuroscience and its related careers in detail. The article also sheds light on how neuroscientists study the brain. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Careers Are There In Neuroscience?

What does a neuropsychologist do? 

Neuropsychologists work in collaboration with doctors and neurologists.

They study and treat people who have been diagnosed with various brain or nervous system disorders. 

How much intelligence is required as a neuroscientist?

You require higher levels of intelligence to become a neuroscientist. You need to be able to have qualities of self-learning and analytical thinking.

How accurate is neuropsychological testing?

Through evaluation, it is found that neuropsychological testing has 90% accuracy that helps in detecting Alzheimer’s dementia from non-dementia (Weissberger et al., 2017). Dementia and depression also cause similar difficulties that can be identified and treated on time with the help of these evaluation processes. 

References

Clements, D. H. (2004). Geometric and spatial thinking in early childhood education. Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education, 267-297.

Kosslyn, S. M., Maljkovic, V., Hamilton, S. E., Horwitz, G., & Thompson, W. L. (1995). Two types of image generation: Evidence for left and right hemisphere processes. Neuropsychologia, 33(11), 1485-1510.

Weissberger, G. H., Strong, J. V., Stefanidis, K. B., Summers, M. J., Bondi, M. W., & Stricker, N. H. (2017). Diagnostic Accuracy of Memory Measures in Alzheimer’s Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Neuropsychology Review, 27(4), 354–388. doi:10.1007/s11065-017-9360-6

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