Neuroscience

Neuroscience

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Neuroscience is the scientific study
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 of the nervous system
Nervous system
The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts, central and peripheral. The central nervous...

. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and allied disciplines
Health care provider
A health care provider is an individual or an institution that provides preventive, curative, promotional or rehabilitative health care services in a systematic way to individuals, families or communities....

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

. The term neurobiology is usually used interchangeably with the term neuroscience, although the former refers specifically to the biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 of the nervous system
Nervous system
The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts, central and peripheral. The central nervous...

, whereas the latter refers to the entire science of the nervous system.

The scope of neuroscience has broadened to include different approaches used to study the molecular
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

, cellular
Cellular neuroscience
Cellular neuroscience is the study of neurons at a cellular level. This includes morphology and physiological properties of single neurons. Several techniques such as intracellular recording, patch-clamp, and voltage-clamp technique, pharmacology, confocal imaging, molecular biology, two photon...

, developmental
Neural development
Neural development comprises the processes that generate, shape, and reshape the nervous system, from the earliest stages of embryogenesis to the final years of life. The study of neural development aims to describe the cellular basis of brain development and to address the underlying mechanisms...

, structural
Neuroanatomy
Neuroanatomy is the study of the anatomy and organization of the nervous system. In contrast to animals with radial symmetry, whose nervous system consists of a distributed network of cells, animals with bilateral symmetry have segregated, defined nervous systems, and thus we can begin to speak of...

, functional
Neurophysiology
Neurophysiology is a part of physiology. Neurophysiology is the study of nervous system function...

, evolutionary
Evolutionary neuroscience
Evolutionary neuroscience is an interdisciplinary scientific research field that studies the evolution of nervous systems. Evolutionary neuroscientists attempt to understand the evolution and natural history of nervous system structure and function. The field draws on concepts and findings from...

, computational
Computational neuroscience
Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the information processing properties of the structures that make up the nervous system...

, and medical aspects of the nervous system. The techniques used by neuroscientist
Neuroscientist
A neuroscientist is an individual who studies the scientific field of neuroscience or any of its related sub-fields...

s have also expanded enormously, from molecular and cellular studies of individual nerve cells
Neuron
A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electrical and chemical signaling. Chemical signaling occurs via synapses, specialized connections with other cells. Neurons connect to each other to form networks. Neurons are the core components of the nervous...

 to imaging
Brain mapping
Brain mapping is a set of neuroscience techniques predicated on the mapping of quantities or properties onto spatial representations of the brain resulting in maps.- Overview :...

 of sensory and motor tasks in the brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

. Recent theoretical advances in neuroscience have also been aided by the study of neural network
Neural network
The term neural network was traditionally used to refer to a network or circuit of biological neurons. The modern usage of the term often refers to artificial neural networks, which are composed of artificial neurons or nodes...

s.

Given the increasing number of scientists who study the nervous system, several prominent neuroscience organizations have been formed to provide a forum to all neuroscientists and educators. For example, the International Brain Research Organization
International Brain Research Organization
The International Brain Research Organization was founded in 1961 in response to the growing demand from neuroscientists in many countries for the creation of a central organization that would cut across world boundaries and improve communication and collaboration among brain researchers...

 was founded in 1960, the International Society for Neurochemistry
International Society for Neurochemistry
The International Society for Neurochemistry is a professional society for neurochemists and neuroscientists throughout the world.-History:...

 in 1963, the European Brain and Behaviour Society
European Brain and Behaviour Society
The European Brain and Behaviour Society is a scientific society founded in 1968 whose stated purpose is the exchange of information between European scientists interested in the relationships between brain mechanisms and behaviour. It is the oldest neuroscience society in the world...

 in 1968, and the Society for Neuroscience
Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is a professional society, headquartered in Washington, D.C., for basic scientists and physicians around the world whose research is focused on the study of the brain and nervous system.-History:...

 in 1969.

History




The study of the nervous system dates back to ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Evidence of trepanation
Trepanation
Trepanning, also known as trephination, trephining or making a burr hole, is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater in order to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. It may also refer to any "burr" hole created...

, the surgical practice of either drilling or scraping a hole into the skull with the purpose of curing headaches or mental disorders
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 or relieving cranial pressure, being performed on patients dates back to Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 times and has been found in various cultures throughout the world. Manuscripts dating back to 1700 BC indicated that the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 had some knowledge about symptoms of brain damage
Brain damage
"Brain damage" or "brain injury" is the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Brain injuries occur due to a wide range of internal and external factors...

.

Early views on the function of the brain regarded it to be a "cranial stuffing" of sorts. In Egypt, from the late Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

 onwards, the brain was regularly removed in preparation for mummification
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

. It was believed at the time that the heart
Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

 was the seat of intelligence. According to Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

, the first step of mummification was to "take a crooked piece of iron, and with it draw out the brain through the nostrils, thus getting rid of a portion, while the skull is cleared of the rest by rinsing with drugs."

The view that the heart was the source of consciousness was not challenged until the time of Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

. He believed that the brain was not only involved with sensation—since most specialized organs (e.g., eyes, ears, tongue) are located in the head near the brain—but was also the seat of intelligence. Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 also speculated that the brain was the seat of the rational part of the soul. Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, however, believed the heart was the center of intelligence and that the brain regulated the amount of heat from the heart. This view was generally accepted until the Roman physician Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, a follower of Hippocrates and physician to Roman gladiators
Gladiator
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the...

, observed that his patients lost their mental faculties when they had sustained damage to their brains.

Abulcasis
Abu al-Qasim
Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi , also known in the West as Abulcasis, was an Arab physician who lived in Al-Andalus. He is considered the greatest medieval surgeon to have appeared from the Islamic World, and has been described by some as the father of modern surgery...

, Averroes
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

, Avenzoar
Ibn Zuhr
Abū Merwān ’Abdal-Malik ibn Zuhr was a Muslim physician, surgeon and teacher in Al-Andalus.He was born at Seville...

, and Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, active in the Medieval Muslim world, described a number of medical problems related to the brain. In Renaissance Europe
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, Vesalius
Vesalius
Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica . Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy. Vesalius is the Latinized form of Andries van Wesel...

 (1514–1564) and René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

 (1596–1650) also made several contributions to neuroscience.


Studies of the brain became more sophisticated after the invention of the microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

 and the development of a staining procedure by Camillo Golgi
Camillo Golgi
Camillo Golgi was an Italian physician, pathologist, scientist, and Nobel laureate.-Biography:Camillo Golgi was born in the village of Corteno, Lombardy, then part of the Austrian Empire. The village is now named Corteno Golgi in his honour. His father was a physician and district medical officer...

 during the late 1890s. The procedure used a silver chromate
Silver chromate
Silver chromate is a brown-red monoclinic crystal and is a chemical precursor to modern photography. It can be formed by combining silver nitrate and potassium chromate...

 salt to reveal the intricate structures of individual neuron
Neuron
A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electrical and chemical signaling. Chemical signaling occurs via synapses, specialized connections with other cells. Neurons connect to each other to form networks. Neurons are the core components of the nervous...

s. His technique was used by Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Santiago Ramón y Cajal ForMemRS was a Spanish pathologist, histologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel laureate. His pioneering investigations of the microscopic structure of the brain were original: he is considered by many to be the father of modern neuroscience...

 and led to the formation of the neuron doctrine
Neuron doctrine
The neuron doctrine is a descriptive term for the fundamental concept that the nervous system is made up of discrete individual cells, a discovery due to decisive neuro-anatomical work of Santiago Ramon y Cajal and later presented, among others, by H. Waldeyer-Hartz...

, the hypothesis that the functional unit of the brain is the neuron. Golgi and Ramón y Cajal shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

 in 1906 for their extensive observations, descriptions, and categorizations of neurons throughout the brain. The neuron doctrine was supported by experiments following Luigi Galvani
Luigi Galvani
Luigi Aloisio Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist who lived and died in Bologna. In 1791, he discovered that the muscles of dead frogs legs twitched when struck by a spark...

's pioneering work in the electrical excitability of muscles and neurons. In the late 19th century, Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond was a German physician and physiologist, the discoverer of nerve action potential, and the father of experimental electrophysiology.-Life:...

, Johannes Peter Müller
Johannes Peter Müller
Johannes Peter Müller , was a German physiologist, comparative anatomist, and ichthyologist not only known for his discoveries but also for his ability to synthesize knowledge.-Early years and education:...

, and Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

 demonstrated that neurons were electrically excitable and that their activity predictably affected the electrical state of adjacent neurons.

In parallel with this research, work with brain-damaged patients by Paul Broca
Paul Broca
Pierre Paul Broca was a French physician, surgeon, anatomist, and anthropologist. He was born in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, Gironde. He is best known for his research on Broca's area, a region of the frontal lobe that has been named after him. Broca’s Area is responsible for articulated language...

 suggested that certain regions of the brain were responsible for certain functions. At the time, Broca's findings were seen as a confirmation of Franz Joseph Gall
Franz Joseph Gall
Franz Joseph Gall was a neuroanatomist, physiologist, and pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain.- Life :...

's theory that language was localized and that certain psychological functions were localized in specific areas of the cerebral cortex
Cerebral cortex
The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is outermost to the cerebrum of the mammalian brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is constituted of up to six horizontal layers, each of which has a different...

. The localization of function
Functional specialization (brain)
Functional specialization suggests that different areas in the brain are specialized for different functions.- Historical origins :The brain and its functions have been a topic of intense interest...

 hypothesis was supported by observations of epileptic
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

 patients conducted by John Hughlings Jackson
John Hughlings Jackson
John Hughlings Jackson, FRS , was an English neurologist.- Biography :He was born at Providence Green, Green Hammerton, near Harrogate, Yorkshire, the youngest son of Samuel Jackson, a yeoman who owned and farmed his land, and the former Sarah Hughlings, the daughter of a Welsh revenue collector...

, who correctly inferred the organization of the motor cortex
Motor cortex
Motor cortex is a term that describes regions of the cerebral cortex involved in the planning, control, and execution of voluntary motor functions.-Anatomy of the motor cortex :The motor cortex can be divided into four main parts:...

 by watching the progression of seizures through the body. Carl Wernicke further developed the theory of the specialization of specific brain structures in language comprehension and production. Modern research still uses the Brodmann cerebral cytoarchitectonic map
Cytoarchitectonics of the cerebral cortex
The cytoarchitectonics of the cerebral cortex is the study of neuronal cell bodies cytoarchitecture in the cerebral cortex of the brain.-History:...

 (referring to study of cell structure
Cell structure
Cell structure may refer to:* An organelle, or the layout of organelles of the biological cell itself* The structure of a covert cell, often involved in underground resistance, organised crime, terrorism or any group requiring stealth in its operations...

) anatomical definitions from this era in continuing to show that distinct areas of the cortex are activated in the execution of specific tasks.

In 1952, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, OM, KBE, PRS was a British physiologist and biophysicist, who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles....

 and Andrew Huxley
Andrew Huxley
Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, OM, FRS is an English physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his experimental and mathematical work with Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin on the basis of nerve action potentials, the electrical impulses that enable the activity...

 presented a mathematical model for transmission of electrical signals in neurons of the giant axon of a squid, action potentials, and how they are initiated and propagated, known as the Hodgkin-Huxley model
Hodgkin-Huxley model
The Hodgkin–Huxley model is a mathematical model that describes how action potentials in neurons are initiated and propagated....

. In 1961-2, Richard FitzHugh and J. Nagumo simplified Hodgkin-Huxley, in what is called the FitzHugh–Nagumo model
FitzHugh–Nagumo model
The FitzHugh–Nagumo model, named after Richard FitzHugh who suggested the system in 1961 and J. Nagumo et al. who created the equivalent circuit the following year, describes a prototype of an excitable system ....

. In 1962, Bernard Katz
Bernard Katz
Sir Bernard Katz, FRS was a German-born biophysicist, noted for his work on nerve biochemistry. He shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1970 with Julius Axelrod and Ulf von Euler...

 modeled neurotransmission across the space between neurons known as synapses. In 1981 Catherine Morris and Harold Lecar combined these models in the Morris-Lecar model. In 1984, J. L. Hindmarsh and R.M. Rose further modeled neurotransmission.

Beginning in 1966, Eric Kandel and collaborators examined biochemical changes in neurons associated with learning and memory storage.

Modern Neuroscience



The scientific study
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 of the nervous system has increased significantly during the second half of the twentieth century, principally due to advances in molecular biology
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

, electrophysiology
Electrophysiology
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological cells and tissues. It involves measurements of voltage change or electric current on a wide variety of scales from single ion channel proteins to whole organs like the heart...

, and computational neuroscience
Computational neuroscience
Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the information processing properties of the structures that make up the nervous system...

. This has allowed neuroscientists to study the nervous system
Nervous system
The nervous system is an organ system containing a network of specialized cells called neurons that coordinate the actions of an animal and transmit signals between different parts of its body. In most animals the nervous system consists of two parts, central and peripheral. The central nervous...

 in all its aspects: how it is structured, how it works, how it develops, how it malfunctions, and how it can be changed. For example, it has become possible to understand, in much detail, the complex processes occurring within a single neuron
Neuron
A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electrical and chemical signaling. Chemical signaling occurs via synapses, specialized connections with other cells. Neurons connect to each other to form networks. Neurons are the core components of the nervous...

. Neurons are cells specialized for communication. They are able to contact with neurons and other cell types through specialized junctions called synapse
Synapse
In the nervous system, a synapse is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell...

s, at which electrical or electrochemical signals can be transmitted from one cell to another. Many neurons extrude long thin filaments of protoplasm called axon
Axon
An axon is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma....

s, which may extend to distant parts of the body and are capable of rapidly carrying electrical signals, influencing the activity of other neurons, muscles, or glands at their termination points. A nervous system emerges from the assemblage of neurons that are connected to each other.

In vertebrates, the nervous system can be split into two parts, the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

 (brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

 and spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

), and the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

. In many species — including all vertebrates — the nervous system is the most complex organ system in the body, with most of the complexity residing in the brain. The human brain
Human brain
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times larger than the brain of a typical mammal with an equivalent body size. Estimates for the number of neurons in the human brain range from 80 to 120 billion...

 alone contains around a hundred billion neurons and a hundred trillion synapses; it consists of thousands of distinguishable substructures, connected to each other in synaptic networks whose intricacies have only begun to be unraveled. The majority of genes belonging to the human genome are expressed specifically in the brain. Thus the challenge of making sense of all this complexity is formidable.

Molecular and cellular neuroscience


The study of the nervous system can be done at multiple levels, ranging from the molecular and cellular levels to the systems and cognitive levels. At the molecular level, the basic questions addressed in molecular neuroscience
Molecular neuroscience
Molecular neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that examines the biology of the nervous system with molecular biology, molecular genetics, protein chemistry and related methodologies. Molecular biology studies how deoxyribonucleic acid forms ribonucleic acid which makes protein...

 include the mechanisms by which neurons express and respond to molecular signals and how axons form complex connectivity patterns. At this level, tools from molecular biology
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

 and genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 are used to understand how neurons develop and how genetic changes affect biological functions. The morphology
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

, molecular identity, and physiological characteristics of neurons and how they relate to different types of behavior are also of considerable interest.

The fundamental questions addressed in cellular neuroscience
Cellular neuroscience
Cellular neuroscience is the study of neurons at a cellular level. This includes morphology and physiological properties of single neurons. Several techniques such as intracellular recording, patch-clamp, and voltage-clamp technique, pharmacology, confocal imaging, molecular biology, two photon...

 include the mechanisms of how neurons process signals
Cell signaling
Cell signaling is part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions. The ability of cells to perceive and correctly respond to their microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity as well as normal tissue...

 physiologically and electrochemically. These questions include how signals are processed by neurites – thin extensions from a neuronal cell body, consisting of dendrite
Dendrite
Dendrites are the branched projections of a neuron that act to conduct the electrochemical stimulation received from other neural cells to the cell body, or soma, of the neuron from which the dendrites project...

s (specialized to receive synaptic inputs from other neurons) and axon
Axon
An axon is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma....

s (specialized to conduct nerve impulses called action potential
Action potential
In physiology, an action potential is a short-lasting event in which the electrical membrane potential of a cell rapidly rises and falls, following a consistent trajectory. Action potentials occur in several types of animal cells, called excitable cells, which include neurons, muscle cells, and...

s) – and somas (the cell bodies of the neurons containing the nucleus), and how neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. Neurotransmitters are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane on the presynaptic side of a synapse, and are released into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to...

s and electrical signals are used to process information in a neuron. Another major area of neuroscience is directed at investigations of the development
Neural development
Neural development comprises the processes that generate, shape, and reshape the nervous system, from the earliest stages of embryogenesis to the final years of life. The study of neural development aims to describe the cellular basis of brain development and to address the underlying mechanisms...

 of the nervous system. These questions include the patterning and regionalization
Regional specification
In the field of developmental biology, regional specification is the process by which different areas are identified in the development of the early embryo. The process by which the cells become specified differs between organisms.-Cell fate determination:...

 of the nervous system, neural stem cell
Stem cell
This article is about the cell type. For the medical therapy, see Stem Cell TreatmentsStem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells...

s, differentiation
Cellular differentiation
In developmental biology, cellular differentiation is the process by which a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type. Differentiation occurs numerous times during the development of a multicellular organism as the organism changes from a simple zygote to a complex system of...

 of neurons and glia, neuronal migration, axonal and dendritic development, trophic interactions
Growth factor
A growth factor is a naturally occurring substance capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation and cellular differentiation. Usually it is a protein or a steroid hormone. Growth factors are important for regulating a variety of cellular processes....

, and synapse formation
Synaptogenesis
Synaptogenesis is the formation of synapses. Although it occurs throughout a healthy person's lifespan, an explosion of synapse formation occurs during early brain development...

.

Neural circuits and systems



At the systems level, the questions addressed in systems neuroscience
Systems neuroscience
Systems neuroscience is a subdiscipline of neuroscience and systems biology that studies the function of neural circuits and systems. It is an umbrella term, encompassing a number of areas of study concerned with how nerve cells behave when connected together to form neural networks...

 include how neural circuits are formed and used anatomically and physiologically to produce functions such as reflex
Reflex
A reflex action, also known as a reflex, is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. A true reflex is a behavior which is mediated via the reflex arc; this does not apply to casual uses of the term 'reflex'.-See also:...

es, sensory integration
Sensory integration
Sensory integration is defined as the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and the environment, thus making it possible to use the body effectively within the environment. Specifically, it deals with how the brain processes multiple sensory modality inputs into usable...

, motor coordination
Motor coordination
thumb|right|Motor coordination is shown in this animated sequence by [[Eadweard Muybridge]] of himself throwing a diskMotor coordination is the combination of body movements created with the kinematic and kinetic parameters that result in intended actions. Such movements usually smoothly and...

, circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm
A circadian rhythm, popularly referred to as body clock, is an endogenously driven , roughly 24-hour cycle in biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes. Circadian rhythms have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria...

s, emotional responses
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

, learning
Learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

, and memory
Memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....

. In other words, they address how these neural circuits function and the mechanisms through which behaviors are generated. For example, systems level analysis addresses questions concerning specific sensory and motor modalities: how does vision
Visual perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

 work? How do songbirds learn new songs and bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s localize with ultrasound
Ultrasound
Ultrasound is cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is thus not separated from "normal" sound based on differences in physical properties, only the fact that humans cannot hear it. Although this limit varies from person to person, it is...

? How does the somatosensory system
Somatosensory system
The somatosensory system is a diverse sensory system composed of the receptors and processing centres to produce the sensory modalities such as touch, temperature, proprioception , and nociception . The sensory receptors cover the skin and epithelia, skeletal muscles, bones and joints, internal...

 process tactile information? The related fields of neuroethology
Neuroethology
Neuroethology is the evolutionary and comparative approach to the study of animal behavior and its underlying mechanistic control by the nervous system...

 and neuropsychology
Neuropsychology
Neuropsychology studies the structure and function of the brain related to specific psychological processes and behaviors. The term neuropsychology has been applied to lesion studies in humans and animals. It has also been applied to efforts to record electrical activity from individual cells in...

 address the question of how neural substrates underlie specific animal
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

 and human
Human behavior
Human behavior refers to the range of behaviors exhibited by humans and which are influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics....

 behaviors. Neuroendocrinology
Neuroendocrinology
Neuroendocrinology is the study of the extensive interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system, including the biological features of the cells that participate, and how they functionally communicate...

 and psychoneuroimmunology
Psychoneuroimmunology
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body...

 examine interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine
Endocrinology
Endocrinology is a branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions called hormones, the integration of developmental events such as proliferation, growth, and differentiation and the coordination of...

 and immune
Immunology
Immunology is a broad branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms. It deals with the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders ; the...

 systems, respectively. Despite many advancements, the way networks of neurons
Neural network
The term neural network was traditionally used to refer to a network or circuit of biological neurons. The modern usage of the term often refers to artificial neural networks, which are composed of artificial neurons or nodes...

 produce complex cognition
Cognition
In science, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science...

s and behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

s is still poorly understood.

Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience



At the cognitive level, cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is an academic field concerned with the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain...

 addresses the questions of how psychological functions are produced by neural circuitry. The emergence of powerful new measurement techniques such as neuroimaging
Neuroimaging
Neuroimaging includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure, function/pharmacology of the brain...

 (e.g., fMRI, PET
Positron emission tomography
Positron emission tomography is nuclear medicine imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image or picture of functional processes in the body. The system detects pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a positron-emitting radionuclide , which is introduced into the body on a...

, SPECT), electrophysiology
Electrophysiology
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological cells and tissues. It involves measurements of voltage change or electric current on a wide variety of scales from single ion channel proteins to whole organs like the heart...

, and human genetic analysis
Human genome
The human genome is the genome of Homo sapiens, which is stored on 23 chromosome pairs plus the small mitochondrial DNA. 22 of the 23 chromosomes are autosomal chromosome pairs, while the remaining pair is sex-determining...

 combined with sophisticated experimental techniques
Experimental techniques
Experimental research designs are used for the controlled testing of causal processes.The general procedure is one or more independent variables are manipulated to determine their effect on a dependent variable...

 from cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

 allows neuroscientist
Neuroscientist
A neuroscientist is an individual who studies the scientific field of neuroscience or any of its related sub-fields...

s and psychologist
Psychologist
Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

s to address abstract questions such as how human cognition and emotion are mapped to specific neural substrates.

Neuroscience is also allied with the social
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 and behavioral sciences as well as nascent interdisciplinary fields such as neuroeconomics
Neuroeconomics
Neuroeconomics is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to explain human decision making, the ability to process multiple alternatives and to choose an optimal course of action. It studies how economic behavior can shape our understanding of the brain, and how neuroscientific discoveries can...

, decision theory
Decision theory
Decision theory in economics, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and statistics is concerned with identifying the values, uncertainties and other issues relevant in a given decision, its rationality, and the resulting optimal decision...

, and social neuroscience
Social neuroscience
Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior. Humans are fundamentally a social species, rather...

 to address complex questions about interactions of the brain with its environment.

Ultimately neuroscientists would like to understand every aspect of the nervous system, including how it works, how it develops, how it malfunctions, and how it can be altered or repaired. The specific topics that form the main foci of research change over time, driven by an ever-expanding base of knowledge and the availability of increasingly sophisticated technical methods. Over the long term, improvements in technology have been the primary drivers of progress. Developments in electron microscopy, computers, electronics, functional brain imaging, and most recently genetics and genomics, have all been major drivers of progress.

Translational research and medicine




Neurology
Neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

, psychiatry
Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

, neurosurgery
Neurosurgery
Neurosurgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spine, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.-In the United States:In...

, psychosurgery
Psychosurgery
Psychosurgery, also called neurosurgery for mental disorder , is the neurosurgical treatment of mental disorder. Psychosurgery has always been a controversial medical field. The modern history of psychosurgery begins in the 1880s under the Swiss psychiatrist Gottlieb Burckhardt...

, neuropathology
Neuropathology
Neuropathology is the study of disease of nervous system tissue, usually in the form of either small surgical biopsies or whole autopsy brains. Neuropathology is a subspecialty of anatomic pathology, neurology, and neurosurgery...

, neuroradiology
Neuroradiology
Neuroradiology is a subspecialty of radiology focusing on the diagnosis and characterization of abnormalities of the central and peripheral nervous system, spine, and head and neck. Primary imaging modalities include computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging...

, clinical neurophysiology
Clinical neurophysiology
Clinical neurophysiology is a medical specialty that studies the central and peripheral nervous systems through the recording of bioelectrical activity, whether spontaneous or stimulated....

 and addiction medicine
Addiction Medicine
Addiction medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the treatment of addiction. The specialty often crosses over into other areas, since various aspects of addiction fall within the fields of public health, psychology, social work, psychiatry, and internal medicine, among others...

 are medical specialties that specifically address the diseases of the nervous system. These terms also refer to clinical disciplines involving diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. Neurology works with diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input...

 (ALS) and stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

, and their medical treatment. Psychiatry focuses on affective
Affect (psychology)
Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. Affect is a key part of the process of an organism's interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" .The affective domain...

, behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

al, cognitive
Cognition
In science, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science...

, and perceptual
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 disorders. Neuropathology focuses upon the classification and underlying pathogenic mechanisms of central and peripheral nervous system and muscle diseases, with an emphasis on morphologic, microscopic, and chemically observable alterations. Neurosurgery and psychosurgery work primarily with surgical treatment of diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The boundaries between these specialties have been blurring recently as they are all influenced by basic research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 in neuroscience. Brain imaging also enables objective, biological insights into mental illness, which can lead to faster diagnosis, more accurate prognosis, and help assess patient progress over time.

Integrative neuroscience
Integrative neuroscience
Integrative neuroscience sculptures a theoretical neuroscience with amathematical neuroscience that is different from computational neuroscience...

 makes connections across these specialized areas of focus.

Major branches


Modern neuroscience education and research activities can be very roughly categorized into the following major branches, based on the subject and scale of the system in examination as well as distinct experimental or curricular approaches. Individual neuroscientists, however, often work on questions that span several distinct subfields.
Branch Description
Affective neuroscience
Affective neuroscience
Affective neuroscience is the study of the neural mechanisms of emotion. This interdisciplinary field combines neuroscience with the psychological study of personality, emotion, and mood.-Brain areas related to emotion:...

Affective neuroscience is the study of the neural mechanisms involved in emotion, typically through experimentation on animal models.
Behavioral neuroscience
Behavioral neuroscience
Behavioral neuroscience, also known as biological psychology, biopsychology, or psychobiology is the application of the principles of biology , to the study of physiological, genetic, and developmental mechanisms of behavior in human and non-human animals...

Behavioral neuroscience (also known as biological psychology, biopsychology, or psychobiology) is the application of the principles of biology (viz., neurobiology) to the study of genetic, physiological, and developmental mechanisms of behavior in humans and non-human animals.
Cellular neuroscience
Cellular neuroscience
Cellular neuroscience is the study of neurons at a cellular level. This includes morphology and physiological properties of single neurons. Several techniques such as intracellular recording, patch-clamp, and voltage-clamp technique, pharmacology, confocal imaging, molecular biology, two photon...

Cellular neuroscience is the study of neurons at a cellular level including morphology and physiological properties.
Clinical neuroscience
Clinical neuroscience
Clinical neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that focuses on the fundamental mechanisms that underlie diseases and disorders of the brain and central nervous system...

This consists of medical specialties such as neurology
Neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

 and psychiatry
Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

, as well as many allied health professions
Allied health professions
Allied health professions are clinical health care professions distinct from dentistry, nursing and medicine. One estimate reported allied health professionals make up 60 percent of the total health workforce...

 such as speech-language pathology
Speech and language pathology
Speech-Language Pathology specializes in communication disorders.The main components of speech production include: phonation, the process of sound production; resonance, opening and closing of the vocal folds; intonation, the variation of pitch; and voice, including aeromechanical components of...

. Neurology is the medical specialty that works with disorders of the nervous system. Psychiatry is the medical specialty that works with the disorders of the mind—which include various affective, behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual disorders. (Also see note below.)
Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is an academic field concerned with the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain...

Cognitive neuroscience is the study of biological substrates underlying cognition with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes.
Computational neuroscience
Computational neuroscience
Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the information processing properties of the structures that make up the nervous system...

Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the information processing properties of the structures that make up the nervous system. Computational neuroscience can also refer to the use of computer simulations and theoretical models to study the function of the nervous system.
Cultural neuroscience
Cultural neuroscience
Cultural neuroscience is the study of how cultural values, practices and beliefs shape and are shaped by the mind, brain and genes across multiple timescales. The study of cultural neuroscience bridges theory and methods from anthropology, psychology, neuroscience and genetics...

Cultural neuroscience is the study of how cultural values, practices and beliefs shape and are shaped by the mind, brain and genes across multiple timescales.
Developmental neuroscience Developmental neuroscience studies the processes that generate, shape, and reshape the nervous system and seeks to describe the cellular basis of neural development to address underlying mechanisms.
Molecular neuroscience
Molecular neuroscience
Molecular neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that examines the biology of the nervous system with molecular biology, molecular genetics, protein chemistry and related methodologies. Molecular biology studies how deoxyribonucleic acid forms ribonucleic acid which makes protein...

Molecular neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that examines the biology of the nervous system with molecular biology, molecular genetics, protein chemistry, and related methodologies.
Neuroengineering
Neural engineering
Neural engineering is a discipline within biomedical engineering that uses engineering techniques to understand, repair, replace, enhance, or otherwise exploit the properties of neural systems...

Neuroengineering is a discipline within biomedical engineering that uses engineering techniques to understand, repair, replace, or enhance neural systems.
Neuroimaging
Neuroimaging
Neuroimaging includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure, function/pharmacology of the brain...

Neuroimaging includes the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure and function of the brain.
Neuroinformatics
Neuroinformatics
Neuroinformatics is a research field concerned with the organization of neuroscience data by the application of computational models and analytical tools. These areas of research are important for the integration and analysis of increasingly large-volume, high-dimensional, and fine-grain...

Neuroinformatics is a discipline within bioinformatics that conducts the organization of neuroscience data and application of computational models and analytical tools.
Neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics
Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language. As an interdisciplinary field, neurolinguistics draws methodology and theory from fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive science,...

Neurolinguistics is the study of the neural mechanisms in the human brain that control the comprehension, production, and acquisition of language.
Neurophysiology
Neurophysiology
Neurophysiology is a part of physiology. Neurophysiology is the study of nervous system function...

Neurophysiology is the study of the functioning of the nervous system, generally using physiological techniques that include measurement and stimulation with electrodes or optically with ion- or voltage-sensitive dyes or light-sensitive channels.
Social neuroscience
Social neuroscience
Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior. Humans are fundamentally a social species, rather...

Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior.
Systems neuroscience
Systems neuroscience
Systems neuroscience is a subdiscipline of neuroscience and systems biology that studies the function of neural circuits and systems. It is an umbrella term, encompassing a number of areas of study concerned with how nerve cells behave when connected together to form neural networks...

Systems neuroscience is the study of the function of neural circuits and systems.

Neuroscience organizations


The largest professional neuroscience organization is the Society for Neuroscience
Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is a professional society, headquartered in Washington, D.C., for basic scientists and physicians around the world whose research is focused on the study of the brain and nervous system.-History:...

 (SFN), which is based in the United States but includes many members from other countries. Since its founding in 1969 the SFN has grown steadily: as of 2010 it recorded 40,290 members from 83 different countries. Annual meetings, held each year in a different American city, draw attendance from researchers, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates, as well as educational institutions, funding agencies, publishers, and hundreds of businesses that supply products used in research.

Other major organizations devoted to neuroscience include the International Brain Research Organization
International Brain Research Organization
The International Brain Research Organization was founded in 1961 in response to the growing demand from neuroscientists in many countries for the creation of a central organization that would cut across world boundaries and improve communication and collaboration among brain researchers...

 (IBRO), which holds its annual meetings in a country from a different part of the world each year, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies
The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies is an international federation of scientific societies for basic scientists and physicians whose research is focused on the brain and nervous system.- History :...

 (FENS), which holds annual meetings in European cities. FENS comprises a set of 32 national-level organizations, including the British Neuroscience Association
British Neuroscience Association
The British Neuroscience Association is an scientific society with more than 2000 members. It was relaunched in 1997 from the former Brain Research Association. Beside publishing a scientific journal, it offers a variety of benefits to members, including discounts on books and reduced registration...

, the German Neurowissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, and the French Societé des Neurosciences.

Public education and outreach


In addition to conducting traditional research in laboratory settings, neuroscientists have also been involved in the promotion of awareness and knowledge
Public awareness of science
Public awareness of science , also public understanding of science , is a term relating to the attitudes, behaviours, opinions and activities that comprise the relations between the general public or lay society as a whole to scientific knowledge and organisation.It is a comparatively new approach...

 about the nervous system among the general public and government officials. Such promotions have been done by both individual neuroscientists and large organizations. For example, individual neuroscientists have promoted neuroscience education among young students by organizing the International Brain Bee (IBB), which is an academic competition for high school or secondary school students worldwide. In the United States, large organizations such as the Society for Neuroscience have promoted neuroscience education by developing a primer called Brain Facts, collaborating with public school teachers to develop Neuroscience Core Concepts for K-12 teachers and students, and cosponsoring a campaign with the Dana Foundation
Dana Foundation
The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic organization based in New York dedicated to the support of grants and outreach in science, health, and education, particularly in the neurosciences...

 called Brain Awareness Week to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research.

Finally, neuroscientists have also collaborated with other education experts to study and refine educational techniques to optimize learning among students, an emerging field called educational neuroscience
Educational Neuroscience
Educational neuroscience is an emerging scientific field that brings together researchers in cognitive neuroscience, developmental cognitive neuroscience, educational psychology, educational technology, education theory and other related disciplines to explore the interactions between biological...

. Federal agencies in the United States, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 (NSF), have also funded research that pertains to best practices in teaching and learning of neuroscience concepts.

See also



Further reading


  • Squire, L. et al. (2003). Fundamental Neuroscience, 2nd edition. Academic Press
    Academic Press
    Academic Press is an academic book publisher. Originally independent, it was acquired by Harcourt, Brace & World in 1969. Reed Elsevier bought Harcourt in 2000, and Academic Press is now an imprint of Elsevier....

    ; ISBN 0-12-660303-0
  • Byrne and Roberts (2004). From Molecules to Networks. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-148660-5
  • Sanes, Reh, Harris (2005). Development of the Nervous System, 2nd edition. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-618621-9
  • Siegel et al. (2005). Basic Neurochemistry, 7th edition. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-088397-X
  • Rieke, F. et al. (1999). Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code. The MIT Press; Reprint edition ISBN 0-262-68108-0
  • section.47 Neuroscience 2nd ed. Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, Lawrence C. Katz, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, James O. McNamara, S. Mark Williams. Published by Sinauer Associates, Inc., 2001.
  • section.18 Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular, and Medical Aspects 6th ed. by George J. Siegel, Bernard W. Agranoff, R. Wayne Albers, Stephen K. Fisher, Michael D. Uhler, editors. Published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
  • Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York, Avon Books
    Avon (publishers)
    Avon Publications was an American paperback book and comic book publisher. As of 2010, it is an imprint of HarperCollins, publishing primarily romance novels.-History:...

    . ISBN 0-399-13894-3 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-380-72647-5 (Paperback)
  • Gardner, H. (1976). The Shattered Mind: The Person After Brain Damage. New York, Vintage Books
    Random House
    Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

    , 1976 ISBN 0-394-71946-8
  • Goldstein, K. (2000). The Organism. New York, Zone Books. ISBN 0-942299-96-5 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-942299-97-3 (Paperback)
  • Llinas R. (2001). I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-12233-2 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-262-62163-0 (Paperback)
  • Luria, A. R. (1997). The Man with a Shattered World: The History of a Brain Wound. Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

    , Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

    . ISBN 0-224-00792-0 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-674-54625-3 (Paperback)
  • Luria, A. R. (1998). The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About A Vast Memory. New York, Basic Books
    Basic Books
    Basic Books is a book publisher founded in 1952 and located in New York. It publishes books in the fields of psychology, philosophy, economics, science, politics, sociology, current affairs, and history.-History:...

    , Inc. ISBN 0-674-57622-5
  • Medina, J. (2008). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, Pear Press. ISBN 0-979-777704 (Hardcover with DVD)
  • Pinker, S. (1999). How the Mind Works. W. W. Norton
    W. W. Norton
    W. W. Norton & Company is an independent American book publishing company based in New York City. It is well known for its "Norton Anthologies", particularly the Norton Anthology of English Literature and the "Norton Critical Editions" series of texts which are frequently assigned in university...

     & Company. ISBN 0-393-31848-6
  • Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult. ISBN 0-670-03151-8
  • Ramachandran, V. S. (1998). Phantoms in the Brain. New York, New York
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     Harper Collins
    HarperCollins
    HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

    . ISBN 0-688-15247-3 (Paperback)
  • Rose, S. (2006). 21st Century Brain: Explaining, Mending & Manipulating the Mind ISBN 0099429772 (Paperback)
  • Sacks, O. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales is a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of his patients. The title of the book comes from the case study of a man with visual agnosia...

    . Summit Books ISBN 0-671-55471-9 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-06-097079-0 (Paperback)
  • Sacks, O. (1990). Awakenings. New York, Vintage Books. (See also Oliver Sacks
    Oliver Sacks
    Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE , is a British neurologist and psychologist residing in New York City. He is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, where he also holds the position of Columbia Artist...

    ) ISBN 0-671-64834-9 (Hardcover) ISBN 0-06-097368-4 (Paperback)
  • Sternberg, E. (2007) Are You a Machine? The Brain, the Mind and What it Means to be Human. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books
    Prometheus Books
    Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz, who also founded the Council for Secular Humanism and co-founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently the chairman of all three organizations. Prometheus Books publishes a range of books, including many...

    .
  • Churchland, P. S. (2011) Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-69-113703-X

External links