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Neuroscience

Neuroscience

Photo by Natalee Waters for Virginia Tech.

male student processes samples in neuroscience wet lab

The Neuroscience program teaches about advances in genetic, cellular, molecular, cognitive and systems Neuroscience. By studying model organisms in the lectures and the laboratories, students learn hands-on how the brain develops, how it is wired and how it functions, and explore how human behavior, addiction and many neurological illnesses can be explained at a cellular, genetic, and molecular level.

Major

Clinical Neuroscience

The Clinical Neuroscience major is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in health related professions (medical, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy, nursing, etc.). It offers a curriculum that spans from a detailed understanding of genetic, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases and disorders in the nervous system to a translation of such findings into clinical practice and the role and responsibility that health care plays in society. Students are encouraged to participate in independent research and each student will complete a capstone thesis based either on their own laboratory findings or on a literature based research question.

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience focuses on thought processes in humans. Students majoring in Cognitive Neuroscience will explore a wide array of topics including sensory and motor systems, learning, memory, decision-making, language, sleep, mood, awareness and attention, and others. Courses will introduce students to biological substrates underlying cognition ranging from genes to complex circuits. Additional courses illuminate the role of Neuroscience in social interactions and Society. This major prepares students for graduate studies in cognitive Neuroscience or Psychology as well as many professional careers including Law School, Business, Public Health, Finance and Policy.

Computational and Systems Neuroscience

Computational and Systems Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary branch of Neuroscience that incorporates theoretical and experimental approaches to understand the brain. Students choosing this major will explore tools and techniques that Neuroscientists use to make sense of the vast data available in hope of finding solutions to neurological diseases and disorders as well as to understand processes such as decision-making, addiction, motivation, and more. Students in this major will also be able to explore exciting research areas in artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Typical computational Neuroscience students will develop a strong background in Mathematics and computer programing.

Experimental Neuroscience

The Experimental Neuroscience major prepares students for a hands-on career in science or science education. The curriculum focuses on the structure and function of the nervous system with the ultimate goal to experimentally test questions relevant to health and disease. Students in this major will gain a comprehensive understanding of genes, molecules and cells that are the building blocks of the brain. Students will work with model organisms to learn how the brain develops and functions. Students will explore the many disorders and diseases that are linked to the brain and nervous system from a model systems perspective. A capstone thesis typically follows 1-2 years of hand-on research in a laboratory and is typically based on the students own data.

Career paths

  •  Research lab head (principal investigator)
  • Scientific journal editor
  • Creative writing about the brain – write books for children, etc.
  • Web design and writing for the NIH or other neuroscience organizations
  • Clinical psychologist (could specialize in behavioral neuroscience)
  • Physician (MD or DO)
  • Optometrist
  • Nurse
  • Nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant
  • Speech & language therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Clinical research
  • Neuroeconomist or economics consultant
  • Congressional advisor (advise on policy for the care of people with neurodevelopmental disease, intellectual disabilities, autism, epilepsy, etc)
  • Advise on policy for the care of persons with psychiatric problems, etc

 

Learn More

Visit the School of Neuroscience

Visit Virtually

Schedule a virtual tour with the College of Science Undergraduate Recruiter