What does a neuroscientist do on a daily basis?

Have you ever heard of neuroscience? It sure sounds like something too scientific to you, even something that only doctors can access. And although they are a good part of those who make up the neuroscientific community, the truth is that this field of study can be accessed from other careers, and that is that neuroscience is a multidisciplinary science.

Neuroscience is essentially responsible for the study of the nervous system and especially the brain. To do this, it must be done in a multidisciplinary way, accessing this study from very diverse scientific fields.

In this way, you can find neuroscience specialists who are doctors, psychologists or biologists. The objective is common to all, to try to understand the relationship between the mind, the behavior and the activity of the nervous tissue.

In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’What does a neuroscientist do on a daily basis?’’ we will detail and analyze the day-to-day activities that a neuroscientist performs in his years of research.

What does a neuroscientist do on daily basis?

On a typical day, a neuroscientist conducts experiments with rats to observe the aspects of interest while recording the results and thus analyze them until a solid hypothesis is created.

When someone asks you what you do and you tell them that you are a scientist, sometimes there is a small silence in which you notice that they are thinking “Ah…! And… exactly what is this guy doing? Will it be like those of CSI? Will he be there in a dark place mixing substances to see what comes out?

So I’m going to try to explain a little the day-to-day life of a neuroscientist in the laboratory so that you can see that what we really do is not so strange … or yes.

Nevertheless, there is never really a “typical” day in the laboratory because, almost by definition, every day is different-different experimental procedures, multiple meetings during the day, and daily inconsistency throughout the smooth operation of an experimental procedure.

We will take notes from Devon C, PhD. at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Let’s start!

9 o’clock

Arrival at the laboratory. You put things in the locker (if you have one) and check the mail. You review the experiments you have prepared for the day on the agenda. Generally, you have made a weekly plan in which everything fits the millimeter. You have your time to eat, a coffee in the middle of the morning and leave at a decent time


You are already at work. You have started to prepare some gels and while they are being “made” you take the opportunity to see if the bacteria from the experiment you left yesterday (which has nothing to do with today, you are multifunctional) have grown.

Immediately, you run to sign up for one of the department’s devices or facilities that are shared by many people to have an hour to use it. You usually sign up at, say, 11 a.m. and hopefully you’ll start there at 11:15, because the old user was late.

10:45 – 11:40

By mounting them on a microscope slide, I processed some of the mouse’s brain slices, and I examined at them under a microscope in order to verify the accuracy of my study. I had previously conducted brain surgery on this mouse and wanted to check whether the surgery went as expected.

While it is time to eat, you prepare more reagents that you will need in the afternoon and you spend a while at the computer to analyze the backward data from last week’s experiments.


Then you take lunch.

11:55am to 1:00pm

You need to perform field potential electrophysiology, so you set up your devices, which is a method neuroscientists use to calculate the electrical responses from several nerves in the brain slice simultaneously.

This enables neuroscientist to check the strength of the ties between neurons.

1:00-3:00 pm

You start recording the electrical responses of the mouse brain. Your lab partner asks a few questions and you answer them kindly. You recorded the readings for the experiment.

Before the end of the experiment, you decide to put yourself on the computer for a while. You lose a while with Facebook and e-mail, but immediately the bad conscience enters you and you start reading scientific articles, which you should do more often.

Then you realize that you have to prepare a poster with your work for the congress in ten days that you haven’t even started.

3:15 pm

You reported electrophysiological baseline parameters from slices of the brain. This gives neuroscientists an indication of whether there are any variations in how the neurons act before any improvements to the system are made.

You check that it has gone well, which takes a long time, because to do it it is not enough to take a look at it, you have to do another procedure in the laboratory.

Meanwhile you go to your boss’s office where he tells you that he has read a very good article where they do an experiment that is great for you to repeat that what if you do it the day after tomorrow.

Total is a simple thing that, in the end, it will only take a month to set up and another two to get results. Of course you think that it has nothing to do with your thesis, but you put it on the agenda and you will end up doing it.

3:15 – 3:45pm

You should probably attend a social gathering with the other members of the faculty. You leave the rest of the assistant team recording the responses of the brain slices. With this break you can relax a bit and talk with some classmates and graduate studies.

3:45 – 4:25pm

You came back from the meeting in good spirits. You ask your assistants if anything new has happened and you check the electrical records.

You apply a drug to the brain slices and while you wait you start planning the next experiments.

You find out if the operation you performed on the mouse changes the way the drug acts on neuronal connections.

4:25 – 5:10pm

You washed the medication off the slices of the brain, checked your email again, conducted laboratory tasks (such as cleaning and organization), and looked at more papers in the journal.

You are looking for a quiet moment to continue with the poster. You make a slide. And you remember that you have bacteria on the stove since yesterday!

5:10 – 6:20pm

To see if they were affected from the previous drug application, you measured electrical responses from the brain slices again.

You also checked the website of the laboratory, debated with a labmate a scientific journal post, modified the databases you use to keep a record of animals and tests, and arranged my thoughts in readiness for your next day’s weekly meeting with your mentor.

6:20 – 6:55pm

It seems late, it is getting dark, but you want to get the most out of each animal in the experiment and thus obtain as much data as possible. To advance, you clean the previous experiment and prepare the second experiment.

6:55 – 7:05pm

You decide to take a little break to eat dinner. Good thing you brought dinner from home in case you stayed late like you did today.

7:05 – 9:15pm

As you did in the last experiment, you reported baseline parameters from the brain slices.

Now you must finish planning your schedule for tomorrow. You decide to read a few more articles that your boss has left you. You decide to relax and brainstorm ideas for your next presentation at a neuroscientific conference. Hey! Don’t forget to write the request for funds to finance your research.

9:15 – 9:20pm

You’re studying the synaptic plasticity of mouse neurons to find out if strengthening neural connections is the foundation for learning. You used a powerful electrical stimulation in the cerebral cortex to analyze the long-term potentiation.

All right, you record the electrical signals to see if the long-term potentiation changes were effective. Then you keep thinking about what to talk about in your presentation at the conference.

10:30 – 10:45 pm

You have washed up today’s experiments and prepared to leave for the day. At some level tomorrow, you have made a plan to evaluate the information collected today.

You added just a couple of data points to my experimental dataset after this long day. Before you can tell if the intervention you implemented into the system has any impact on the nature of the brain cells, this process will have to be performed several more times.

It would probably fill up a single panel of a multi-panel data figure between different figures in one scientific journal paper, even after this experiment is repeated sufficiently. Therefore, this experiment is just a tiny piece of a much complex story.

For this purpose, you may begin to understand why acquiring some kind of “response” to a scientific question takes so long

Yes, it is intense work. However, not every day is like this. There are neuroscientists who have time to do different activities, attend cultural events, play sports, go for a few drinks and spend time with family and friends when they are not in the laboratory.

Some neuroscientists work part-time in the lab so they can transport their children to school, but can access work from their home computer.

Some postdoctoral neuroscientists work many more hours during the week, including Saturday and Sunday, since the most important thing is scientific productivity, especially if you have your own source of funding.

FAQS: What does a neuroscientist do on a daily basis?

What does a neuroscientist do?

The study and research of the nervous system is mainly the subject of neuroscientists. The brain, spinal cord and nerve cells form the nervous system.

How long does it take to become a neuroscientist?

To become a neuroscientist you will need at least 10 or 12 years of education, the first step is a Bachelor Degree that lasts 4 years, followed by 2 additional years of Master Degree study and finally about 4 years of PhD.

Do neuroscientists make a lot of money?

They don’t actually make a lot of money. Researchers in neuroscience earn an average of $ 82,000 a year.

What skills do you need to be a neuroscientist?

The ability to use medical instruments, supplies, and programs for computers. A solid working understanding of all mental conditions. 

Good logical thinking and skills in decision making. Good expertise in deductive and inductive reasoning and the ability to identify trends in principles, concepts, and mathematical arrangements.

Do Neuroscientists do surgery?

It depends, as there are too many branches in neuroscience. Neurosurgery is wrapped up in neurosciences, so we could say yes. But not all neuroscientists are neurosurgeons, so no.

In this post we answered the question ‘’What does a neuroscientist do on a daily basis?’’ we detailed and analyzed the day-to-day activities that a neuroscientist performs in his years of research.

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


Devon C., Ph.D. (2015, December). Retrieved November 12, 2020, from SPEaC website: https://speacatutsw.wordpress.com/author/devoncphd/