Neuroscience engages many disciplines of science in the exploration of the functional, behavioral, computational, evolutionary, cellular, and molecular components of the nervous system. In this endeavor, neuroscientists use mathematics, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and engineering. Because of the involvement of multiple disciplines, neuroscience has many areas of specialization. Some of the neuroscience specialties are:
- Molecular and Cellular
- Neural circuits and systems
- Cognitive and Behavioral
All of these on the above list have the brain and nervous system as the focal point. The emphasis on specific sciences will vary from one specialization to the other. However, most of them share common study areas at the undergraduate level. Even before considering neuroscience as your major, you should excel in math, biology, chemistry, and physics during your high school years.
A Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience furnishes a well-rounded education in several sciences. The coursework exposes you to different aspects of neuroscience, which is beneficial for those who advance to a graduate program. Through diversity, you may choose a specialty that suits your career aspirations.
Students should have an aptitude for mathematics. Expect to study the theory and applications of differential and integral calculus, the mean value theorem, and transcendental functions. Further study of calculus may include forms of the rate of change, graphing, analytical geometry, and exponential growth. A separate class in the mathematics vein may cover statistical analysis, as well as experimental design, interval estimation, and hypothesis testing. A course in statistical methods teaches the interpretation of psychological and sociological data.
Two dominant subjects in neuroscience curricula are biology and chemistry. Prospective college students must take as many classes in these two subjects during high school. By doing so, students will be less apt to struggle when taking more advanced courses during year-one at college or university.
Courses in chemistry generally comprise the core curriculum. You may have Chemistry I and II, in addition to a lab class with each of these. General chemistry studies atomic structure, chemical bonding, molecular structure, thermochemistry, and reaction stoichiometry. The latter is a measurement of the amount of a substance consumed or produced by a chemical reaction.
A chemistry lab starts with becoming familiar with scientific lab processes, methods for recording data, and performing quantitative measurements accurately. Some programs have an organic chemistry lab to complement the organic chemistry study of synthesis and polymers.
This subject shares the limelight with chemistry. Courses may have different concentrations, for example, organismal biology, genetics, cell biology, and neurobiology. Introductory classes involve cell structure, physiology, gene expression, and molecular basis of living organisms. A course in genetics may examine the transmission of inherited traits in bacteria, viruses, fungi in animals. Other topics are DNA, genetics of cancer, population, and developmental genetics.
A biology lab could also be part of the curriculum, which introduces students to the examination of tissues, cells, and molecules. You may encounter specialty labs in neurobiology, neurogenetics, cognitive neuroscience, and animal behavior.
A course in the neurobiology of stress examines the physiological consequences, factors governing stress vulnerability versus resilience, and research on brain mechanisms.
The emphasis on this science varies. One program may require only one college-level physics course. The material may cover thermodynamics, electricity, mechanics, waves, gravitation, particle dynamics, and relativity. Many neuroscience programs seem to mandate eight hours of physics inclusive of classroom and lab work.
This science may be part of the core curriculum or as an elective. A class in general psychology may study the principles of reasoning in a social setting. Other possible topics include the psychological science of acquired behavior, operant conditioning, cognition in humans, and behavioral adaptation. As individual courses in the psychology realm, you may learn about the aging mind, psychopharmacology, motivation, addiction, and the neuroscience of learning and memory.
It is a broad area with stand-alone courses in neuroscience and a series of subjects incorporated into the electives. A class in neuroscience places a focus on neuron physiology, brain structure, perceptual systems, and neural development, as examples. You may also have a neurobiology lab to experiment with computer simulations that illustrate how the central nervous systems process information.
Computational neuroscience is a specialty in itself. However, a course in quantitative methods in neuroscience will introduce students to the mathematical models used in the analysis of the structure, development, and cognitive abilities of the nervous system.
Students majoring in neuroscience need to have biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics as their top grades throughout high school. These three sciences are the essence of your success in the field of neuroscience. Your exemplary performance in these four sciences will ensure your mastery of other subjects, as animal physiology, cognition, endocrinology, neuroethics, and ancient cultures. Any of the former could be part of your bachelor’s curriculum.
The Hidden Benefits of a Degree in Psychology
What Are the Different Kinds of Psychology Degrees?
What Degree Do I Need to Be a Psychologist?
What Degree do I need to be a Cognitive Neuroscientist?
How much Science is there in a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience?