Who was the first neuroscientist?

This article will answer the question “who was the first neuroscientist?” It will then discuss who is a neuroscientist in detail 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?

Spanish artist and scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) is considered to be the first neuroscientist. He is also called the father of modern neuroscience. His artwork “The Beautiful Brain” is showcased at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery. 

He is credited for being the first individual to discover the complex functions of the brain before the development of modern medical imaging techniques. His artwork, which is truly astonishing and detailed, is still portrayed in textbooks today. His artwork shows the infinite complexity and beauty of the human brain.

What is Neuroscience and How is it Emerging as a New Field?

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 understand better 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).

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.

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 are 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.

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 specialised 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. 

They 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.

Is Neuroscience the same as Neurology?

Both neurologists and neuroscientists work in fields that are closely related, however, there are some contrasting differences between the two. Neuroscientists study the structure of the brain, spinal cord, and neurons throughout the body. They try and understand the physical makeup of these. 

Neuroscientists have knowledge in biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, and anatomy. All of these branches collectively make up neuroscience. Neuroscience is a research-focused field that includes careers in investigating the functioning and development of the nervous system. It is not necessary for all neuroscientists to have a degree in medicine.

In contrast, neurologists understand how to treat disorders of the nervous system. They study the diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as multiple sclerosis (MS). They focus on the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. 

They use diagnostic investigative techniques such as lumbar puncture, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and electroencephalogram (EEG) so that they can better understand the problems that are affecting the well-being of the patient.

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

What are some Fields Related to Neuroscience?

Related fields of neuroscience include:

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 them. 

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. 

The disorders studied by psychologists include:

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

Neuropsychology

Neuropsychologists work in collaboration with doctors and neurologists.

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

Disorders of both the brain, Illnesses, and injuries of the nervous system can affect how our cognitive functioning works. Following are the symptoms for which you might visit a neuropsychologist: they are as follows;  memory problems, mood disturbances, difficulty in learning, and nervous system dysfunction. Neuropsychologists also diagnose and study Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurological disorder that can cause several physical dysfunctions. 

Neuropsychologist helps examine and study the prognosis of the patient to help them get better by buffering the effects of the disease. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders that can cause changes in one’s memory, personality, and cognitive abilities are also studied by neuropsychologists. 

The effects of traumatic brain injuries and their impact on one’s cognitive functioning, decision making and problem-solving are studied by them. Various treatment plans for individuals with learning disabilities and how they develop and affect a person over time are studied and monitored by a neuropsychologist. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Who was the first neuroscientist?

How can Neuroscience Contribute to Psychology?

Research has shown that there are several mutual benefits when neuroscience and psychology work together. Since psychology focuses on mental processes and neuroscience studies the physical system of the nervous system, it can help us understand the relationship between our mental and physical processes. 

Which is better neurologist or neuropsychologist? 

Neuropsychologists treat cognitive, mental, as well as behavioural effects that brain disorders have on a person without the use of medications. Whereas, Neurologists only provide medication treatment for any physical problems caused by brain disorders. 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

This is a progressive disease that damages memory and other crucial mental functions like critical thinking and problem-solving. It is usually caused when brain cells start degenerating and dying and thus leading to the deterioration of neuronal connections. The main symptoms include memory loss and confusion.

References

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

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

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