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Drawing of the cells in the chicken cerebellum by Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. People who study neuroscience are called neuroscientists. In the past, most people thought of neuroscience as a part of biology, but today, neuroscientists use approaches from many other fields. Some of these fields are chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, physics, and psychology. Another name for neuroscience is neurobiology. This name refers specifically to the biology of the nervous system. Different parts of neuroscience focus on the genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology of the nervous system.

Modern neuroscience

There has been more and more study of the nervous system during the last half of the twentieth century. This is mainly because of progress in molecular biology, electrophysiology, and computational neuroscience. This has let neuroscientists study all the aspects of the nervous system: how it is laid out, how it works, how it develops, how and why things go wrong, and how it can be changed. For example, neuroscients now understand what goes on inside a single neuron—a type of cell that is specialized in communication.

Research themes

Neuroscience research from different areas can also be seen as focusing on a set of specific themes and questions. (Some of these are taken from

Related fields


  • Bear, M.F.; B.W. Connors, and M.A. Paradiso (2001). Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Baltimore: Lippincott. ISBN 0-7817-3944-6
  • Squire, L. et al. (2003). Fundamental Neuroscience, 2nd edition. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-660303-0
  • Byrne and Roberts (2004). From Molecules to Networks. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-148660-5
  • Sanes, Reh, Harris (2005). Development of the Nervous System, 2nd edition. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-618621-9
  • Siegel et al. (2005). Basic Neurochemistry, 7th edition. Academic Press; ISBN 0-12-088397-X
  • Rieke, F. et al. (1999). Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code. The MIT Press; Reprint edition ISBN 0-262-68108-0

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