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What areas of brain research should I get involved in?

  1. Dec 22, 2012 #1
    I'm doing double honours in Neuroscience, likely biochemistry as well. I have to find a thesis adviser for next year...I know everyone says "follow your heart" or something to that effect, but that's not what I'm looking for, not to impugn anyone will kind intent.

    Here's my interested in Med School: 0%. I know, despite what everyone tells me on account of my good grades, that science is the life for me. I'd take a Leica over a Lamborghini any day. I'm in my 3rd year of my undergrad and really want to go to graduate school, I just don't know what to focus on in the remaining 1.5 years of my undergrad. I like Neuroscience and I also enjoy chemistry, like organic and biochem.
    I've never taken classes like Phys. Chem or Analytical Chem., although I've taken all three Calc's, or I will by the end of this year, as well as lots of statistics. So, I can think somewhat analytically, which I know is needed to do theory. I've gotten A+ in all my Calculus and Stats classes.

    I don't see myself of as a behavioural/psych type of guy, and while I like math, I don't want to do Biophysics (doubt I'd be smart enough to be honest). I know Neuroscience is an exploding field, I just don't know what areas of it would be good to focus on.

    What area(s) of brain research should I get involved in?
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2012 #2
    It be a great idea to study the function of human intelligence.
    Like how does intelligence work on the inside.
  4. Dec 23, 2012 #3


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    Well you've eliminated a lot of your options stating what to dont want/like. One aspect of theoretical neuro that you left is the computer science approach. They generally model vet large ensemble of simplified neurons and/or model brain architecture for problem solving.

    What parts of neuroscience are you interested in?
  5. Dec 23, 2012 #4
    I'm aware of the problem of creating synthetic limits for one's self, I really just can't see myself doing theory, and my computer skills beyond GUI are weak to put it mildly. My best friend is a computer science major and I realize I know none of the things I'd need to know, not even basic C++, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

    I'd like to do something exciting, something where much is left to be discovered. I'm not against Biophysics, but I just don't honestly think I have the IQ for it. I've read Hodgkin and Huxley (1952), I find it difficult to understand even that, let alone more contemporary Biophysics research.

    Pharmacology seems interesting, but I fear without an understanding of Physical and Analytical chemistry (and only introductory physics) I'd find myself out of my depth, even with a relatively strong background in Organic and Biochem.

    I see myself an an experimentalist, not a theory guy...experimentalist in what? That is the problem.
    Sorry to sound like a bore.
  6. Dec 23, 2012 #5


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    Experimental electrophysiology perhaps? I worked in a lab where we studied the electrophysiology of brain stems from a variety of animals under a plethora f drug treatments to show they were homologous and to contribute to the overall model of breathing rythmogenesis as it evolved across species.
  7. Dec 23, 2012 #6
    Thank you very much for your help.
    Yes, I must admit I do not know that much about it, but I have spoken with a prof. of mine that I had last year that now does research like that. She said that many students find it a challenging type of research. Of course, that could be a good thing, I like challenges after all.

    What type of background did you have going into that lab and how steep was the learning curve?

    I assume that's not the type of work you're involved in now, if I'm correct, what made you change?
  8. Dec 23, 2012 #7


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    I am a physics student, going into theoretical neuroscience. I just did it to get some lab experience and see how experimental side of neuroscience worked so I knew the caveats when I was doing theory.

    It is challenging. Long hours in the lab, doing menial tasks so you can get the data, do some menial analysis tasks, and finally you get the not-so-menial result!

    The background required was not much beyond what your learn in chemistry: mostly just the stochiometry for making up solutions. Everything else is stuff you really just have to learn on the job. They do some electrical engineering, that none of the biologists were exposed to, to keep the equipment running, they do data analysis with software that most biologists have never seen. Basic vertibrae anatomy might be helpful, but again something you can learn on the job.

    Doing the surgeries to remove the brainstem themselves is easier if you've gone through courses that include dissection. I never did, though.
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