Understanding mind, brain and behavior in health and disease at a cellular, genetic, molecular and systems level through interdisciplinary studies and hands-on research
Every decision, emotion, artistic expression, philosophic thought and even spirituality is ultimately the result of computations conducted by billions of nerve cells that form the human brain. The study of the brain and its various functions is called Neuroscience.
Neuroscience research is informing us how we make decisions, how we evaluate our environment, how we interact with other human beings; what makes us artistic, compassionate, religious or philosophic, and simply shows us how we sense our environment or instruct our limbs to move. In short, neuroscience is a science that informs and is informed by essentially every aspect of human endeavor.
Our understanding of gene and gene-environment interaction that alter behavior or drive neurological and neuropsychiatric illnesses is developing at a lightening pace, allowing Neuroscientists to recapitulate complex disorders in models systems to study the underlying biology and in many cases develop novel treatment approaches. As such Neuroscience plays an essential role in driving innovation in the future treatment of illnesses affecting the brain.
The brain is adaptive, and changes over the lifespan. Activity dependent changes underlie learning and memory, and early life experiences can have a profound influence on an individual’s intellectual capacity. Neuroscience research is making great strides in understanding adaptive and mal-adaptive changes that occur over an individual’s lifespan with hope to improve brain health from pre-conception to death.
The School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech takes a very broad view of Neuroscience considering any interactions that are directed or perceived by the nervous system as Neuroscience. For example, any expression of artistry is generated and perceived by brain circuits, as are emotions, motivation, empathy, passion and compassion. Communications between cells, individual organisms, organismal groups and even societies are governed by brain activity.
Whether a student wishes to pursue Neuroscience research in the future or simply acquire this wealth of knowledge, understanding Neuroscience makes us more competent human beings, and provides us skills to be applied to a multitude of careers in art, music, architecture, urban and community planning, law, finance, policy, politics, health care and many other professions.