Who is the father of neuroscience?

This article will answer the question “who is the father of neuroscience?” It will then discuss what neuroscience is and the various subfields of neuroscience in depth. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions about neuroscience.

Who is the father of neuroscience?

Artist and scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) is known to be the first neuroscientist. He is the first person to be credited for discovering several complex brain functions, before the modernization of medical imaging techniques. 

His artwork “The Beautiful Brain” is showcased at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, and is known to be the father of modern neuroscience. His artwork, displays the infinite complexity and beauty of the human brain, it is astonishing and very detailed, this work is portrayed in textbooks in modern day.

What is a neuroscientist?

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

Neuroscientific study is multidisciplinary in nature and focuses on the inner workings and systems of the brain. A neuroscientist tries to understand the brain and solve many of its mysteries, hence the term “scientific study of the brain” or “science of the brain” is used in research of the brain. 

However, this is a broad term, and the brain is the subject of focus for so many overlapping areas of research study, this explains the multidisciplinary nature of neuroscientific studies.

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

All of these areas focus on different regions of the brain along with other regions such as the nervous system, establishing connections between these regions of the brain and other areas of psychology, behaviour and some aspects of our physiology.  

These fields tend to overlap with each other as they learn from those adjacent to them and also contribute to other fields. In this manner, advancements in one field of neuroscience lead to progress in other fields as well.

A neuroscientist studies several illnesses of the brain caused due to neuronal functioning, 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. 

A neurologist or neuroscientist also conducts studies on the neurons and other nerves which are found in the central nervous system (CNS), that is the brain and spinal cord. The nervous systems within our body, governed by the central nervous system, is also studied in this field.

What are the subfields of Neuroscience?

Cognitive neuroscience are cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, social neuroscience and developmental neuroscience are few of the major subfields of neuroscience. 

Clinical neuroscience emphasis on the illnesses and mental disorders related to the nervous system, whereas cognitive neuroscience focuses on the neural underpinnings of various  perceptions and thought related processes. 

Social neuroscience deciphers how the brain processes social interactions and emotions. This field also studies how social processes contribute to or stem from evolutionary processes, since humans are known to be social beings and must communicate with each other in order to survive. 

Affective neuroscience is another field of neuroscience that is responsible for studying how our thoughts, feelings and emotions are affected by the neurons in the brain.

Is Neuroscience the same as Neurology?

Neurologists and neuroscientists both work in closely related fields. However, there are some contrasting differences between the two. 

Neuroscientists study and decipher the physical make up of the structure of the brain, spinal cord, and neurons throughout the body.

Branches such as biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, and anatomy all of these, collectively make up neuroscience. 

Neuroscience is known to be research-focused field, this includes careers in investigating the development  and functioning of the nervous system. 

Neurologists study the diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as other disorders of the nervous system. They successfully, diagnosis and treat these diseases.

Several other  diagnostic investigative techniques are used such as lumbar puncture, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and electroencephalogram (EEG). These are used so that a better understanding of the problems that are affecting the well-being of the patients are found.

These are the main differences between a neurologist and a neuroscientist.

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 field of neuroscience Today

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.

What is Neurology?

Neurologists are medical doctors who aim to study the non-surgical management of serious disorders of the nervous system including both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Neurologists use diagnostic tools to understand malfunctioning of the brain and come to a conclusion about the disorders accordingly. 

They study infections of the nervous system for instance meningitis or encephalitis. They also diagnose degenerative disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and others. They are also specialises in diagnosing epilepsy and other seizure disorders. 

Neurologists study and diagnose speech and language problems. They also diagnose neuromuscular conditions, such as myasthenia gravis and various spinal cord disorders from congenital issues or traumatic injury

It is widely believed neurologists are involved more in the diagnoses of conditions and don’t play a big role in the treatment for 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. 

Conclusion

This article answers the question “who is the father of neuroscience?” It then discusses what neuroscience is and the various subfields of neuroscience in depth. In the end, the article will answer some frequently asked questions about neuroscience.

Frequently Asked Questions: Who is the father of neuroscience?

What causes a Stroke?

Strokes can be caused by high blood pressure, hypertension, tobacco use, and diabetes. The symptoms of a stroke are having trouble walking, speaking or understanding speech, and sometimes even paralysis or numbness and tingling on the face, arms, or legs. 

What is Psychology?

Psychology is referred to as the field that scientifically studies the human mind and its functions of the human mind. It specifically focuses on what motivates behaviours and the mental processes underlying it. In essence, psychology is the study of human behaviour. Psychologists use experiments, surveys, systematic observation, and other research methods to uncover the principles of the mind and behaviour. 

What is the difference between a Neurologist and Neurosurgeon?

Neurologists differ from neurosurgeons in the sense that neurosurgeons are enabled to perform surgeries, while neurologists only adhere to non-invasive medical treatment of nervous system disorders.

Do neuropsychologists diagnose mental illness?

Patients should be referred to a neuropsychologist who has the right credentials. In clinical neuropsychology, professionals make use of image testing, which is used to diagnose and assess the damage that a known issue caused or other brain disorders.  

References

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

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

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