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Mathematical Neuroscience

  1. Jun 28, 2011 #1
    I just have a few quick questions on mathematical neuroscience. What are the branches of mathematics that are used frequently in neuroscience? And finally, is it common for math majors to enter neuroscience in graduate school?

    Yes, I'm thinking about it micro, now don't pester me!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2011 #2

    micromass

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    Hi Kevin! :smile:

    This might not be the best forum to ask this on, but I did a little research. The fields "mathematical neuroscience", "computational neuroscience" and "neuroimaging" are very hot fields. Take a look at following links:

    http://www.whydomath.org/node/HHneuro/index.html
    http://neurotheory.columbia.edu/~ken/math-notes/

    Apparently, in uses nonlinear dynamics a lot (which is very interesting!). In any case, you will want to do an applied mathematics program with focus on differential equations, statistics, analysis, Fourier analysis, neural networks,....

    I have a bit of experience in neuro-imaging and image-compression, but it is a very interesting field. It uses quite a lot of deep and pure mathematics (mostly analysis, functional analysis, etc.). I've had the honor of following a class of one of the prominent figures of image-compression, professor Daubechies. She did a double major in mathematics and physics in my university, and worked in quantum mechanics for a while. But she then switched to image compression and did fabulous work there. So I guess that an applied math/physics degree does prepare you sufficiently for an applied carreer.

    If you want to consider this path, then an applied mathematics degree is useful. Taking classes in computer science, physics and engineering is very advisable. Be sure to find a school were applied stuff is popular, though, as many pure mathematicians can get bogged down in theoretical details that don't matter...

    As for job prospects and whether mathematicians really have a chance of becoming neuroscientists, you will probably have to ask people working in the field. I don't know if there are such a people on PF...
     
  4. Jun 28, 2011 #3
  5. Jun 28, 2011 #4

    micromass

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    In another attempt to convince you of the usefulness of mathematics: take a look at the site

    http://www.siam.org/careers/thinking.php

    it gives all kind of possible careers of applied mathematicians. There are all kind of job opportunities out there, and very likely some you will find interesting.
     
  6. Jun 28, 2011 #5
    I said applied math and your response was "no, pure mathematics only" :wink:. Although I was reluctant towards both due to job opportunities so thanks! What is better for preparation then, an applied mathematics, mathematical physics or pure mathematics degree?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  7. Jun 28, 2011 #6

    micromass

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    I was joking :biggrin: You mustn't take me all that serious about these things (certainly in chat). Just do what you think you'll like! :smile:
     
  8. Jun 28, 2011 #7
    I do like math a lot it's just a matter of job opportunities. I also very much enjoy neuroscience which is a growing field so I'm trying to draw a connection which you have helped me with so thanks!
     
  9. Jun 28, 2011 #8

    micromass

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    I would lean towards applied mathematics if you want the better job opportunities. The thing about applied mathematics is that it is used in so many fields, not only physics. Image processing, data mining, optimization are all studied by applied mathematics. Mathematical physics might limit you to physics thingies. (of course, this is a mathematician speaking).

    Also, I want to make it clear that I have absolutely nothing against applied mathematics. These are very powerful and interesting fields. I wish I knew more about them...
     
  10. Jun 28, 2011 #9
    Thanks micro, you're always of good help!
     
  11. Jun 28, 2011 #10
    Gonna hijack this thread but i have a question for micromass. If i want to do a job that requires a good level of high mathematics but also want to program with these mathematics, what kind of jobs are out there? By high level mathematics, i mean just some undergraduate courses on stochastics, analysis, data mining, etc..?

    I'd also like to take knowledge in computer science (at the undergraduate level for 3rd and 4th year classes) and apply it as well.

    Basically i want a job that optimizes an undergraduate degree that has specialization in statistics and computing. Possibly without taking a masters degree.
     
  12. Jun 28, 2011 #11

    micromass

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    You really shouldn't me for such a things, I don't think I'm very qualified to give a decent answer. You should ask twofish-quant, he knows quite a lot of such a things.

    But anyway, I kind of doubt that an undergraduate degree alone will get you what you want. I'd consider doing a masters degree.

    I think there really are lots of jobs out there that you describe. Basically every job as statistician will give you what you want. You only need to choose what kind of statistics interests you the most. Also see this: http://www.siam.org/careers/thinking/fields.php

    People with knowledge of statistics are really in high demand, so you should find a job fairly easily.
     
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