Neuroscience Is any science that focuses on the structure and the function of the nervous system and the brain. The study of neuroscience encompasses the development of the nervous system, as well as its structural and functional configuration. Neuroscientists often research the structure of the brain and how it controls behaviour and cognitive functions under normal circumstances. Neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders also fall under the purview of the neuroscientist as these are related to abnormal brain and nervous system function.
Traditional neuroscience was classified as a subdivision of biology, however, the recent trend of neuroscience and the frequent need for collaboration with other non-biology disciplines such as mathematics, linguistics, psychology, medicine, and more has expanded the frontiers of neuroscience research and it is now seen as more of an interdisciplinary science.
Some researchers use the term neurobiology to refer to neuroscience but the distinction is in the fact that neurobiology focuses on the biology of the nervous system while neuroscience takes a more interdisciplinary approach to studying the nervous system.
Modern study and research of neuroscience involves study of several aspects of nervous system function and could take any approach, including the function, evolution, molecular, cellular and medical aspects of the nervous system.
Recent Neuroscience Discoveries
Depression is a Systemic Disease
A team of researchers with the University of Granada in the lead carried out research that scientifically proves that depression is a systemic disease. They were able to link depression with changes in oxidative stress for the first time. The researcher used malondialdehyde a biomarker and decrease in antioxidants observed in people with depression. They proved that the levels of malondialdehyde were significantly reduced and antioxidant levels increased with treatment to match that of healthy individuals. This could help identify new therapeutic targets in the approach to the treatment of depression.
One Virus and Two Bacteria can Cause Alzheimer’s Disease
A team of scientists and researchers from around the world released an editorial published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease which indicates that microbes – specifically one virus and two bacteria might be major causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The editorial urged further research to confirm their findings
Neuroscience in the News
It is Possible to Improve Athletic Performance with Brain Stimulation
In a research carried out by researchers at Kent’s School of Sports and Exercise Studies, healthy individuals’ brain were stimulated by passing a mild electric current through it and the effect of this stimulation was testing using cycling time to task failure (TTF). The exercise felt less stressful after the stimulation and an increase in TTF was observed showing that endurance limits are set by both mind and body.
Human Cells grown in a Lab, Cost-effectively?
A stem-cell based technology has been developed as a cost-effective technology that can produce human brain cells in large quantities using two simple steps. This overcomes major challenges in human neuron-based drug discovery, and the new technique has been successfully repeated academically and is already being widely adopted in science and in industry.
What does a Neuroscientist do?
A neuroscientist is someone who has studied neuroscience in a tertiary institution – the development and function of the nervous system. A neuroscientist’s job could be in an office, a laboratory or in a hospital as a member of the healthcare team helping with diagnosis and treatment of patients (as licensed neurosurgeons and neurologists). During training, a neurologist chooses an area to specialise in and it could be any combination of fifteen major branches of neuroscience. A few include behavioural neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, and more.
What is the Importance of Neuroscience in Modern Medicine?
Neuroscience since its inception seeks to understand the link between the nervous system and human behaviour. Modern neuroscientists still have that goal, although some neuroscientists argue that understanding human behaviour can only be achieved when the approach is holistic, investigating the entire situation that led to the formation of human behaviour. Modern neuroscience focuses on treatment of disease states using the understanding that we currently have of the link between the nervous system function and behaviour.
Can Neuroscience be used to Predict Behaviour?
Neuroprediction is an increasingly popular theory, particularly in the United States. Proponents of neuroprediction argue that individual behaviour can be predicted based on collected neuroscientific data. Brain scans and genetic tests have been used by lawyers in cases to argue that brain anomalies are to blame for an offender’s actions. One major limitation to this is the fact that some sufferers of traumatic brain injuries have brain scans that appear normal suggesting that the existence or lack of physical damage doesn’t always result in observable symptoms or behaviour.
Can Neuroscience be used to Predict Disease and Disease Progression?
Yes it can. Neuroscience biomarkers and bio signatures are computable biological parameters that can be used to supply information about a disease state, and the degree of a patient’s response to treatment amongst other information. Neuroscientific research keeps turning up more potential therapeutic targets. Neuroscience can supply information about the disease state and the disease progression pattern. It can also be used to estimate the potential of a new therapeutic agent to be successful in treatment of certain disease states.
Does Neuroscience have any Useful Real Life Applications?
Yes, neuroscience has many extremely useful real life applications. Neuroscience can be seen in many daily activities such as perception, thought, moods, dreams and other things that make a person a sentient being in day to day activities. The use of drugs to alter cognitive function in impaired states and the use of same drugs to enhance brain function in healthy individuals are further examples. Specific examples are the use of caffeine pills and other drugs used in ADHD by long haul drivers or soldiers on the battle field to stay awake. EEG scans are constantly used in diagnosis and treatment in medicine. A further look around will show you a lot more of the daily applications of neuroscience.
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