Neuroscience

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Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous systems. The ultimate task of neuroscience is to explain the underlying mental processes of our thoughts and behaviors. The study of the nervous system takes place at many levels: the biology, chemistry, and structure of nerves and their support cells; the mechanisms of interactions and organizations of the various elements of the system; the ontological development and underlying genetic causes of the nervous system; physical, chemical, and biologic trauma and pathology; and the correlates of the physical traits with thought and behavior.

Traditionally Neuroscience has been a branch of biology, but has since become dominated more by the fields of psychology and computational science. It also draws heavily from and contributes to fields in medicine, physiology, statistics, physics, and chemistry.

The nervous system is divided into two main sections, the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. Neuroscientist investigate both systems with a wide range of methodologies including: comparative animal physiology, biochemical and genetic analysis, case studies of pathologies, brain imaging and computational modeling. Investigations range from studying the cellular components of individual neurons, to large scale interactions of multiple organ systems.

Neuroscience is a rapidly growing field of interest. Probably the most significant event that has led to the explosion of research and findings is the development of non-invasive imaging techniques of the brain in living organisms particularly those techniques that allow for analysis of function and not just anatomical structures (such as the fMRI).

References

  • Kandel, ER; Schwartz JH, Jessell TM (2000). Principles of Neural Science, 4th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-8385-7701-6.
  • Martin, JH (2003). Neuroanatomy text and atlas 3rd ed., New York: McGraw-Hill.
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