A Beginner’s Guide to Behavioral Neuroscience

Neuroscience is an exciting field that is gaining more traction as scientists make breakthrough discoveries. The coming years will bring a greater understanding of how humans function on the cognitive level.


Major Branches of Neuroscience

Neuroscience has two distinct branches for which scientists receive distinct specialization: behavioral and cognitive. What is behavioral neuroscience and how does it differ from cognitive?

Behavioral Neuroscience

What Is Behavioral Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the field of study that focuses on the brain. This includes behavioral and cognitive function and the implications they have on life. Apart from studying the brain’s potential, neuroscientists examine disorders of the nervous system and look for solutions.


Behavioral neuroscience focuses on applying the concepts of biology to the study of the mind. In other words, behavioral neuroscience ties genetic and developmental processes to the function of the brain. Cognitive neuroscience, on the other hand, examines the connections of neurons in the brain and how they influence mental processes.


Why Is Behavioral Neuroscience Important?

Behavioral neuroscience holds the key to helping people that suffer from debilitating mental disorders. Everything from addiction and criminality to Down syndrome and schizophrenia is manifest in the brain. People’s lives can be affected to varying degrees and the ability to reach their full potential in life is impacted.


Besides developing medication and treatment methods for mental conditions and learning disorders, behavioral neuroscience is at the forefront of discovery. Expanding and understanding consciousness and how it affects the body will help boost humanity into a new era of development and growth.


Basics of the Brain

The brain consists of several distinct parts that work independently and in concert to produce thought and creativity. These parts include the cerebellum, the cerebrum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres, each having a different role in your daily life.


Further examination of the cerebrum reveals that six brain areas comprise its two hemispheres. There are the frontal, occipital, parietal, temporal, insular, and limbic lobes.


The outer part of the cerebrum is covered by a layer of neurons. These neurons are the transmitters of signals and form connections as a way of capturing thoughts and patterns. Your brain’s circuitry is genetically determined, providing a biological link to the humans that have lived on Earth throughout the centuries.


How to Become a Behavioral Neuroscientist

To become a behavioral neuroscientist, you will need to follow a STEM undergraduate degree with a master’s and a Ph.D. Enrolling in a biological psychology program from reputable places like AppliedBehaviorAnalysisEdu.org is recommended. Alternatively, you can start with an undergraduate background in biology and move into a more specialized academic program for your master’s.


When you complete your academic training, you can enter an academic research program or elect to pursue a career in the private sector. Behavioral neuroscientists find jobs in areas such as pharmacology, psychiatry, molecular biology, and immunology. Geriatrics and the study of aging are seeing a significant increase in interest with many disciplines converging to conduct research.


As a behavioral neuroscientist, not only will you be working closely with professionals from fields such as biology and chemistry, but you’ll gain the opportunity to explore your career path. With the proper licensing and certification, the possibilities are virtually endless.


Pursue the Final Frontier

Other than deep-sea exploration and space travel, the mind is the final frontier for human discovery. Pursuing a career in behavioral neuroscience will allow you to be on the cutting edge of scientific discovery while ensuring job security and a comfortable living.

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