Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What degrees should I acquire to get into work with brain-computer interfacing?

  1. Mar 19, 2012 #1
    What I want to end up doing is working with electronics that interface with the brain, and work to fix disabilities and issues in functionality, as well as possible devices that can read the brain etc etc. What is the best undergrad and grad degrees to pursue for this? As of now I am going EE at Georgia Tech, is there a better option? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    A bachelor's degree in computer science with a minor in psychology would seem like a good idea to me. I could even see doing the other way around, depending upon which "end" of the "electronics-brain" interface you were more interested in. Wait until near the end of your undergraduate program to decide what graduate degrees you would want.
  4. Mar 20, 2012 #3
    I don't know much of anything about where work/research in that field stands, but logically EE sounds like a reasonable undergrad major. Maybe look into taking Neuroscience and Anatomy/Physiology courses as electives or part of a minor to get a better feel for how the brain and body systems work in order to think about how to affect them with electronics?
  5. Mar 20, 2012 #4
    Why psychology? I'm not sure that would be all that helpful, but I could be wrong.

    There are probably many ways you can approach this problem, aagnone3. EE seems reasonable. I would take a look at what scientists are working in this field (either in a literature search or find some books on the subject and track down the authors) and see what their backgrounds are in.
  6. Mar 20, 2012 #5
    GT has a lot of stuff going on in their human interaction labs in the CS department. The CS program at GT is awesome; it's also very hard (but if you're in EE, you're already doing hard stuff). The good thing about the CS program is that it's customizable, so you pick your modules so that they correspond to what you want your focus to be.

    The smart thing to do is to look into the research going on, and see what they are doing at which labs. Of course if you're looking into more robotics-type things, EE would also be good to know (and you could pick up some CS as well). Also, talk to someone who does research in the field, see if you'll need a graduate degree to work in that area.

    Here is a link for you, they are the labs in the interactive computing division of the GT CS dept.: http://www.ic.gatech.edu/research/labs [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Mar 20, 2012 #6
    This is probably a good guideline to go off of, since your kind of aiming to learn cybernetics, especially if you cannot get a degree in cybernetics itself.
  8. Mar 20, 2012 #7
    http://www.infoocean.info/avatar1.jpg [Broken]A bachelor's degree in computer science with a minor in psychology would seem like a good idea to me.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Mar 21, 2012 #8
    Thanks for all the answers guys. Right now my heavy interest is in computers in math so im leaning toward the GT computer engineering degree with a minor in computer science, and then if I want to get into brain work I can do that as graduate work. Comments?
  10. Mar 21, 2012 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Many psychology programs have progressed from things like "dream analysis" to true brain science - e.g., neurology, brain anatomy, etc. I think Halls of Ivy was referring to that kind of psychology.
  11. Mar 21, 2012 #10
    If you want something math oriented, you should go the other way around (computer science is a branch of mathematics). If you wanted to work in something like AI/neuroscience, it would benefit you more for potential graduate work if you did CS instead. You could still work in robotics as a CS guy, you'd just be doing systems level stuff (which is the only thing with software you'd be practically doing as a computer engineer too). I only mention this because of your comment on wanting to do math and computers.

    Also, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'computers in math', but there is also a lot of other things you can do in CS that are very practical. For instance, with scientific computing you have lots of people who are working on numerical linear algebra packages in a lot of different contexts. You also have a lot of people trying to implement these efficiently in parallel computing environments. Then of course there are the more applied math types that come up with new algorithms for solving certain problems as well.
  12. Mar 24, 2012 #11
    Well, Ed Boyden started with a double major in Physics and Electrical Engineer and Computer Science (EECS is an MIT major, so it's not a triple), then got a master's in EECS and a Ph.D in Neuroscience. I think that's generally a good route to go.

    For undergrad, don't go BioE, because it won't really give you a skill to work with, don't go Biology/Neuroscience because it will be too farm removed from math and technology. It is very easy to teach biology, psychology, and neuroscience to someone with a very strong math/physics/engineering background, but not very easy to teach mathematical methods, engineering, etc., to someone with a background in the biological/cognitive sciences.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook