The field of neuroscience has consistently grown over the last few decades. According to an article in “Scientific American,” the number of Ph.Ds who have chosen neuroscience as their field has grown from approximately 50 each year in 1986 to nearly 450 by 2011. Why is it such a popular field? One reason is the connection between the nervous system and how it affects the rest of the body when it works or starts to fail. Since it is the system which regulates most of the bodies functions, it can affect thought, emotion, and behavior. And, because there are so many facets of it, there are different areas of neuroscience training to consider.
Much detail on the different areas of study can be found at comprehensive, scientific websites like BehavioralHealth2000.com. Therefore, this is a brief explanation of the different fields. Currently, there are five major branches of neuroscience study.
Behavioral neuroscience, which is the most well-known, examines the brains of animals and humans and the areas and processes that form their behaviors.
Another common branch, clinical neuroscience, contains medical specialists such as neurologists and psychiatrists who use research findings in their field to study how to rehabilitate patients with damaged or injured nervous systems. They also look to treat and prevent neurological disorders.
The field of developmental neuroscience looks at the brain and how it grows and changes from the moment we are born until the last moments of our lives.
Those interested in cognitive neuroscience study the brain and how it creates and controls common tasks such as memory, thought, problem-solving, and language.
If you are interested in molecular and cellular neuroscience you explore underneath the surface to look at how genes and proteins are involved in neuron functionality.
From these branches there a many more sub-branches with detailed specifications in a certain section of neuroscience. As someone who is interested in pursuing a career in the field, it is up to you to determine what fits your interests. Review one or all of the branches to get a good idea and speak to some professionals in the areas before you move forward to the next chapter of your academic or professional life.