Neuroscience is a rapidly expanding field. Many colleges and universities in India and abroad, are implementing new neuroscience degree programs. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. It’s a broad term encompassing numerous, more specific disciplines, including cognitive, clinical, and developmental neuroscience. In this post, we will talk about careers, top colleges, jobs, and salaries in neuroscience.
Careers and Jobs in Neuroscience
Co-authored by Parinita Gupta
What is Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is a Science that emphasizes a multidisciplinary understanding of how the brain and the nervous system work. It focuses on unraveling some of the mysteries of the brain and its mechanisms of action, including dysfunctions. Neuroscience includes aspects of:
- Molecular biology
- Mathematical Modelling
Major Branches in Neuroscience
Affective neuroscience: Research looks at how neurons behave in relation to emotions.
Behavioral neuroscience: This is the study of how the brain affects behavior.
Clinical neuroscience: Investigations of the disorders of the nervous system performed by neurologists and psychiatrists. They also look for ways to rehabilitate those who have undergone neurological damage.
Cognitive neuroscience: The field focuses more on the neural substrates of the human mental state. It is a combination of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. It is a scientific study of neural mechanisms which helps in understanding the mental state of the human brain. Read more about Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience Careers.
It helps us to understand how the brain enables the mind and how neurons get connected to each other during communication or reflex. It uses experimental methods of cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence to create high-level cognition to understand language. It is a study of cognitive functions and neuronal processing of the human brain.
Computational neuroscience: Scientists try to understand how brains compute. They use computers to simulate and model brain functions and apply techniques from mathematics, physics, and other computational fields to study brain function.
Cultural neuroscience: This field looks at the interaction between cultural factors and genomic, neural, and psychological processes. It is a new discipline that may help explain variations in health measures between different populations. Findings may also help scientists to avoid cultural bias when designing experiments.
Developmental neuroscience: This looks at how the brain and the nervous system grow and change, from conception through adulthood. Information gathered helps scientists understand more about how neurological systems develop and evolve. It enables them to describe and understand a range of developmental disorders. It also offers clues about how and when neurological tissues regenerate.
Molecular and cellular neuroscience: Scientists look at the role of individual molecules, genes, and proteins in the functioning of nerves and the nervous system at a molecular and cellular level.
Neuroengineering: Researchers use engineering techniques to better understand, replace, repair, or improve neural systems.
Neuroimaging: This is a branch of medical imaging that concentrates on the brain. Neuroimaging is used to diagnose disease and assess the health of the brain. It can also be useful in the study of the brain, how it works, and how different activities affect the brain.
Neuroinformatics: This field involves collaboration between computer scientists and neuroscientists. Experts develop effective ways to collect, analyze, share, and publish data.
Neurolinguistics: Specialists investigate how the brain enables us to acquire, store, understand, and express language. It helps speech therapists develop strategies to help children with speech difficulties or people who wish to regain their speech after, for example, a stroke.
Neurophysiology: This looks at how the brain and its functions relate to different parts of the body, and the role of the nervous system, from the subcellular level to whole organs. It helps scientists understand how human thought works and provides insight into disorders relating to the nervous system.
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Why is studying neuroscience important?
The brain is constantly changing and everything we do changes our brain – this is called ‘plasticity’ and allows us to continuously take account of the environment and store memories to use in the future.
Increasing understanding of the brain and improved methods to study it will enable scientists to develop treatments for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and mental illnesses. The research will also help us find out more about normal human behavior and mental well-being and can help develop artificial intelligence. As well as treating illnesses, the research could also lead to a better understanding of how we learn, allowing us to optimize our intelligence.
Neuroscience affects many, if not all, human functions, but it also contributes to a better understanding of a wide range of common conditions such as:
- Down syndrome
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- brain tumors
- the effects of stroke, for example, language loss
- immune system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis
A greater understanding of neurological factors can help in developing medications and other strategies to treat and prevent these and many other health issues.
Neuroscience helps in investigating the nervous system to know the mental condition of a human. Neuroscience is extensively used in research of both the human brain and the body which ultimately helps in understanding how the nervous system is working and its health conditions.
These developments are likely to provide significant benefits for society and have implications for a diverse range of public policy areas such as health, education, law, and security. However, they will also raise major social and ethical issues and raise questions about personality, identity, responsibility, and liberty.
The term “neuroscientist” is used broadly to describe one who works in this field, but many of these scientists pursue a career in a specialized area of neuroscience.
Some specialty areas involve the study of the nervous system or brain themselves, while others involve the study of how the system and brain interact with external or internal factors.
- Behavioral/cognitive neuroscientist— studies functions such as perception, learning, and memory
- Clinical neuroscientist— applies research to prevent and treat neurological disorders
- Developmental neuroscientist— studies how the brain grows and changes
- Neuroanatomist— studies the nervous system’s anatomy
- Neurobiologist— studies the nervous system’s biology
- Neurochemist— studies the nervous system’s chemistry
- Neuropathologist— studies nervous system diseases
- Neuropharmacologist— studies how different medicines affect the nervous system or behavior
- Neurophysiologist— studies the composition of the nervous system
- Neuropsychologist— studies relationships between the brain and behavior
- Neurosurgeon— performs surgery on the nervous system
Government agencies, universities, industry, hospitals, and medical centers can all be potential settings for neuroscience jobs. A majority of employment can be found in the academic and private sectors. Universities offer teaching and brain research opportunities. Private research foundations, government laboratories, and regulatory agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all have research and administrative positions for neuroscientists.
Industries such as pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, and medical instruments provide jobs as researchers or leaders of research teams. In an industrial setting, neuroscientists have the opportunity to research and develop new products without having additional teaching responsibilities.
How to pursue a Career in Neuroscience?
Students from diverse backgrounds like sciences and engineering can pursue a career in Neuroscience. Students with an engineering background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biotechnology will have the best chance to become a neuroscientist. Engineering students from different streams like Mechanical Engineering, Instrumentation and Control Engineering are also eligible to make their careers in Neuroscience.
To make up a career in Neuroscience aspirants should have an M. Tech or MS and Ph.D. degrees in Neuroscience with a major course of electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, and biological sciences.
People who join this profession need to have an interest in science and math. Most neuroscientists start out by completing a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience or a related degree (say Biochemistry, Psychology, or Biomedical Science) before then pursuing a Ph.D.
Those who wish to do clinical work and treat patients must also train first as a Medical Doctor (MD) and complete a medical residency. They may then take a postdoctoral fellowship, for example, in a lab, to get further training before applying for a job.
Neuroscience Career Scopes in India and Abroad
India: Research in Neuroscience is an upcoming career in India. Many premier institutions like IISc and NBRC are incorporating this course to develop students in the neuroscience field. Though, the opportunities are limited compared to the scopes in the UK and USA. This course is still in the niche stage which will develop and offers many opportunities to the students.
Abroad: USA and UK have the premier institutes of research in Neuroscience. There are immense opportunities for students who want to pursue their careers in the Neuroscience field. There are highly modernized and equipped research centers that open many opportunities. Countries like USA and UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia have the presence of high-quality R&D centers which help in growing up in this career.
Top Colleges in India for Studying Neuroscience
- Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore
- National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Haryana
- Madras University
- Jiwaji University, Gwalior
- IIT Gandhinagar
- Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research
- SVIMS College of Physiotherapy
- JDT Islam College of Physiotherapy
- Armed Forces of Medical College
- KIMS Foundation and Research Center
- National Brain Research Centre
- Lourdes Hospital
List of Neuroscience research centers and labs in India
- Centre for Neuroscience, IISc Bangalore
- National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Haryana
- Neuroscience Research Laboratory (NRL), Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER)
- Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology Unit, IIT Jodhpur
- Computational Neuroscience Lab, IIT Madras
- Theoretical Neuroscience Lab, IISER Pune
- Neuroscience Group, IISER Kolkata
- Computational Neuroscience and Neurophysiology Lab, Amrita University
- Neurobiology Research Group, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) Bangalore
- Molecular Neurobiology Research Group, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB)
Top Foreign Universities for Neuroscience Studies & Research
- Johns Hopkins
- UC San Francisco
- University of Oxford
- Columbia University
- UC San Diego
- Harvard University
- University of Cambridge
- University of Nottingham
- University of Toronto
- King’s College London
- University of Glasgow
- University of Michigan
- University of St. Andrew’s
- McGill University
- University of Sydney
- Cardiff University
The average annual pay for a Neuroscientist Job in the US is around USD $81K – $91K. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Neuroscience stream will grow by about 22 % by 2026. On average, professionals in neuroscience will earn about $136,680 as base pay.
The salary package will be quite high in industries like management, scientific, and technical consulting services who will completely deal with all brain and nervous systems. Specializations in a particular area will earn more i.e. about $82,000 with so many career opportunities.