A neuroscientist is a trained scientist (typically with a PhD) who studies the scientific field of neuroscience or any of its related sub-fields. Neuroscience is a highly interdisciplinary field encompassing study in fields such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, engineering, and mathematics. Any individual from these fields who contributes to neuroscience-related research can be considered a neuroscientist.
These scientists generally work as researchers within a college, university, government agency, or private industry setting. In research-oriented careers, neuroscientists typically spend their time designing and carrying out scientific experiments that contribute to our knowledge of the nervous system and its function. Neuroscientists can engage in basic or applied research. Basic research seeks to add information to our current understanding of the nervous system, whereas applied research seeks to address a specific problem, such as developing a treatment for a neurological disorder. Biomedically-oriented neuroscientists typically engage in applied research. Neuroscientists also have a number of career opportunities outside the realm of research, including careers in science writing, government program management, science advocacy, and secondary education. These individuals most commonly hold doctorate degrees in the sciences, but may also hold a masters or medical degree.
Training and education
The PhD degree is the most common training path for a neuroscientist. An individual’s training does not necessarily need to be directly in neuroscience for them to be considered a neuroscientist. Many colleges and universities now have PhD training programs in the neurosciences, often with divisions between focus on cognitive and behavioral neuroscience and cellular and molecular and neuroscience. However, many neuroscientists have their degrees in other areas, some common areas being biology, economics, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, or physics. The commonality between all neuroscientists is that their research in their respective areas relates in some way to the understanding of the nervous system.
- Interview with Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Nora Volkow: Motivated Neuroscientist" in Molecular Interventions (2004) Volume 4, pages 243-247.
- Women in neuroscience research from the NIH Office of Science Education.
- To Become a Neuroscientist maintained by Eric Chudler at the University of Washington.
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