I Want To Work In … Neuroscience
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. Neuroscientists try to understand the cause and treatment for neurological disorders and neurological diseases such as Parkinson,s, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. There are genetic causes or risk factors for many neurological diseases: Parkinson's disease for example, is in reality about 10 closely related diseases.
See Brain Rules for an excellent introduction to cognitive neuroscience.
What first degree do I need?
Neuroscience, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics pharmacology, physiology or psychology degrees are good starting points. but more quantitative degrees in subjects such as mathematics physics, chemistry and computing are increasingly useful. Linguistics is also a possible starting point for cognitive neuroscience.
Strong problem-solving skills and determination are more important than specific degree subject as neuroscience research requires a range of disciplines and a flexibility of approach that can work on problems problems from a multiple perspectives.
The standard career route is via a PhD and then work as a post-doctoral researcher or to become a medical doctor and then to specialise in psychiatry or neuroscience.
Skills which may be required
- Able to co-operate effectively with other members of a multidisciplinary team.
- Excellent writing skills and experience of report writing.
- Good spoken communication skills e.g. to express complex ideas or in dealing with very worried patients who have recently been diagnosed with a serious disease.
- Able to work independently
- Strong numeracy and knowledge of statistical methods and analysis
- Computer literate and familiar with using computerised databases.
- Good organisational skills with ability to meet deadlines and manage priorities across multiple projects
- Good publication record for research posts
- Able to analyse data.
- Experience of MRI and spectroscopy techniques and analysis
- Knowledge of experimental design
- Able to conduct cognitive or psychological scale interviews with patients and to provide clinical feedback.
- Able to screen patients for disease indication and current symptoms.
- Understanding of human cognitive function, psychopharmacology, trial design.
- Experience of working with older people and patients with neuropsychiatric disorders
- Administration of written and computerised neuropsychological tests and psychometrics. Experience of administering both psychiatric and cognitive scales to patients.
- Neurologist: doctor who treats nervous system disorders. Neurosurgeon: brain surgeon!
- Educational psychologist - treats behavioral problems and learning disabilities in children - behavioral neuroscience and measure cognitive reasoning and spatial reasoning via psychometric tests .
- community mental health worker
- Clinical neuropsychologist - focuses on using biology and neuroscience to explain human behavior - focuses on the brain, studying neurotransmitters, brain circuitry and mechanisms to understand why humans do what they do - normal activities and abnormal behavior such as schizophrenia.
- Animal neurologist.
- Patent agent
- Neural stem cell researcher
- Science writer and academic publisher
- Regulatory affairs and clinical trial management
- Speech therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Neural engineer
- Computational neuroscientist
- Database and databank manager
- Neural network researcher
- Neuroeconomist working in investment banks neural network models can predict equity market fluctuations
- Management consultancy
- Advertising and Neuromarketing - understanding how the brain responds to sensory input can be very important.
Postgraduate Neuroscience Course in the UK
- University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Strokes and brain injuries.
- University of Birmingham
- University of Cardiff
- University of Cambridge
- University of Edinburgh Cognitive Neuroscience
- University of Manchester Clinical Neuroscience
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Warwick
- Government research centres e.g. the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
- Pharmaceutical companies: researching new drugs
- Hospitals: neurologists, neurosurgeons. neurological nurses and neurotechnicians who assist with patient care and diagnosis in mental illness units. hospital research units
- Universities - teaching and research posts
Cognitive neuroscience involves the study of the biology underlying cognition with a specific focus on the neural substances of mental processes. It deals with how cognitive functions are produced by the brain. It has roots in both psychology and neuroscience and can also involve computational modelling to develop and research theoretical models of the brain. Studies of patients with cognitive problems that involve abnormal activity in brain circuits often caused by brain lesions are an important area of study. Illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, strokes, dementia and brain injuries caused by, for example car accidents are studied.
Methods employed include cognitive psychology, brain imaging, electrophysiology, cognitive genomics, psychophysics, and behavioral genetics.
- Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit www.mrc.ac.uk The MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBSU) is an internationally renowned research institute with state-of-the-art cognitive neuroscience facilities, including a research dedicated 3T Siemens TIM Trio MRI scanner and 306-channel Elekta Neuromag MEG scanner.
- Kings College, London. Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases clinical and translational neuroscience team. A clinical trials team is part of this team remit to improve the treatment of people with dementia.
- Institute of Psychiatry. Department of Psychosis Studies. Neurobiological factors underlying the onset of psychosis. Multimodal neuroimaging project uses MRI and PET to investigate the relationship between brain dopamine, glutamate and hippocampal function in people who are at high risk of developing psychosis. Also aims to apply machine-learning techniques to data to determine whether neuroimaging measures can be used to predict the risk of later transition to psychosis.
- Cambridge Cognition - company dedicated to enhancing cognitive wellbeing throughout life, and to enabling better detection and treatment of cognitive impairment. The CANTAB cognitive testing system is used by the pharmaceutical industry in developing drugs to treat CNS and non-CNS disorders, particularly dementia, ADHD, and schizophrenia. Scientific team provides consultancy to pharmaceutical companies on cognitive study design and interpretation - recommendations on the cognitive features of different disorders, likely psychopharmacological effects of investigational compounds, and statistical and psychometric considerations of cognitive assessment in clinical trials.
- British Neuroscience Association www.bna.org.uk Has an excellent web site including vacancies and courses.
Last fully updated 2011