Major Spotlight: What is a Neuroscience Major?
Everyone gets stressed out now and then, and some stress is healthy. Say a dad sees his toddler toppling off a play structure. His brain releases chemicals that trigger other reactions in his body, giving him a burst of energy to dash to his daughter before she hits the pavement.
But neuroscientists have found that too much stress can hurt a part the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory. Neuroscientists are working on treatments for stress -- but the best remedy may be to just mellow out. If you major in neuroscience, you’ll study stress, memory, and other mysteries of the brain and nervous system.
Neuroscience majors study a combination of subjects, including psychology and chemistry, to deepen their understanding of the brain and the nervous system.
Did You Know?
Understanding the nervous system is the first step toward finding cures for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Are You Ready To...?
- Visit the website of the Society for Neuroscience
- Do independent lab research and write about it in a senior thesis
- Work on a professor's research project
- Do lab research for class
- Learn how our brain recognizes tastes, smells, and other sensory information
- Study the development of the human brain
- Take challenging science courses
It Helps To Be...
Someone who enjoys thinking about how we think. You'll like this major if you’re intrigued by the unknown and unafraid to work on challenging problems with no known solutions.
- What requirements do you have to meet before declaring your major?
- Does the program focus more on some areas, such as behavior, than on others?
- Do the courses offered match your interests?
- What areas of neuroscience are the professors experts in?
- Can you get involved in your own research? In a professor’s research?
- Are labs equipped with the latest?
- Does the program offer student clubs or organize events, such as lectures by guest experts?
Did You Know?
The oldest known person, 122-year-old Jeanne Calment, seems to have had a fully functioning brain until the day she died.
Most likely you’ll have the chance to do research and write a senior thesis. This is a chance to focus on your own interests, with the help of a professor. Maybe you'll examine the effects of cocaine on unborn rats. Or study how finches learn songs from their parents. Whatever topic you choose, you'll value this chance to refine your research skills. At the end, you'll write up your results -- a great warm-up for publishing scientific papers later on.