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What Does a Neuroscientist do? (2023 Guide)

what does a neuroscientist do

Are you searching for an interesting and rewarding career?

If you are fascinated by the human brain, working as a Neuroscientist could be perfect for you. This role involves learning about the nervous system and brain to find out how people learn and think. It involves a lot of research and can allow you to make a real difference in the world. You may also be able to develop pharmaceuticals that help to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders. 

If you are still wondering, ‘what does a Neuroscientist do?’, then it’s time to find out…

Key Duties And Responsibilities

Key Duties And Responsibilities

The main role of this job is to study the human brain, and its functions, as well as how different types of drugs affect it. Here are some of the other typical duties and responsibilities that are associated with this job. 


An important part of this career is identifying different diseases that affect the brain and finding ways to treat them. One method of doing this is through functional magnetic resonance imaging.

This technique involves taking pictures of the brain with high-powered magnets. You would then analyze the pictures and use the information to conduct tests. Another important imaging technique involves using transcranial magnetic stimulation to correct brain malfunctions. 

Nervous system

You will also be charged with studying the whole nervous system, which includes the spine and the spinal nerves. You must be able to identify and address different types of spinal cord injuries. And often collaborate with other healthcare specialists to create treatment plans. This will help to resolve various types of spinal and neck issues. 


Collaborating on research programs is a significant part of this job. These programs usually run for between one and three years. You will usually work closely with a team of other specialists and experts in a particular field. 

Duties during these projects include conducting studies on particular conditions and treatments. This helps specialists in other fields to gain a better understanding of brain functions. You will also be responsible for publishing your findings and discussing them through lectures and presentations. 

Meeting with patients

Meeting with patients

If you choose to work in a hospital, you are likely to work closely with patients. This involves meeting new patients and discussing their symptoms. You will then conduct tests, interpret the results, and develop specialized treatment plans. 

Other duties can include:

  • Developing techniques to analyze brain activity.
  • Developing new treatments for neurologic disorders.
  • Conducting experiments and collecting data to analyze brain function.
  • Designing experiments to measure brain function.

The Work Environment 

The Work Environment 

The place you work will mainly depend on the branch you choose. However, you are likely to find that you spend most of your time in a lab alongside a research team. This could be in a pharmaceutical company, government agency, hospital, or university.

You will usually be assigned a permanent full-time role within a particular field, such as the pharmaceutical sector. The hours you work will depend on your position. You could work standard office hours or more flexible hours while taking part in research projects. 

What Does A Neuroscientist Do? – Different Branches

This role comes with several different branches for you to choose from. After gaining some work experience, choosing a specialization will help you to advance your career. Let’s take a look at the different branches to discover what they involve. 

Affective Neuroscience

This role mainly focuses on researching laboratory animals to determine how neurons are connected to emotions. These specialists use chemical signals and electrical impulses to transmit information between different areas of the brain. This includes designing and conducting experiments and recording the results. 

Behavioral Neuroscience

This specialization focuses on how the brain affects behavior. This is a broad field, and there is a lot of scope to make important discoveries. These specialists often work for universities or pharmaceutical companies. 

Cellular Neuroscience 

This is the study of neurons in the brain. It focuses on how neurons form in the brain as well as their properties at the cellular level. 

Clinical Neuroscience

These specialists typically work in a hospital. They are concerned with studying disorders and diseases of the brain and nervous system. They also work to find new treatments for common and irregular disorders. 

Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscientists study how the brain forms and controls thoughts. They work closely with patients and measure their brain activity while they perform certain tasks. This helps to determine the cause of brain malfunctions and develop ways to treat those issues. 

Computational Neuroscience

This specialization focuses on viewing the brain as a computer and determining how it functions to issue commands. You will use computer programs to model and simulate brain functions. These are studied by applying techniques from physics, mathematics, and other related fields. 

Cultural Neuroscience

If you have an interest and background in psychology, this could be the specialization for you. The field involves observing how cultural values, beliefs, and practices shape the brain and mind. These specialists often work in universities and are also charged with conducting lectures on these topics. 

Developmental Neuroscience

Developmental Neuroscience

People who work in this field study the development and growth of the nervous system. This covers conception all the way through to adulthood. The findings of studies that are designed and conducted shed light on when and how neurological tissues generate.


This is mainly a research field that involves using various engineering techniques. These are applied to different areas of the brain, and the results are recorded. The goal is to learn how to repair, replace, and improve various neural systems. 


This branch focuses on how inherited changes to neurons can affect the body and brain. This is a key component to discovering how diseases are inherited and can develop over time. 


This field focuses on studying how the brain helps us to learn, remember, understand, and express language. Gaining a better understanding of this can help people who have speech difficulties due to a stroke or head injury. Specialists in this field often work closely with speech therapists to diagnose and treat patients. 


This specialization looks at how the brain relates to different parts of the body and nervous system. This helps scientists to understand how changes in the brain affect and even cause different disorders. Choosing this specialization can make a big difference in the lives of people who suffer from nervous system disorders. 

Social Neuroscience

This field includes a lot of research on the way that the brain mediates behavior in social settings. Related topics of research include social interactions, morality, empathy, and social prejudice. It is often necessary to work with youth groups and other groups to conduct research and make new discoveries. 

How To Become A Neuroscientist

How To Become A Neuroscientist

This is a very competitive field, and it is necessary to become fully qualified and certified. You will need to complete many years of higher education to earn the necessary skills and recognition. Here are the main steps you need to take on your journey to becoming a Neuroscientist.

Earn a Bachelor’s degree

After graduating from college, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology or neuroscience. If you are still in college, focus on the sciences as well as math and English. These courses form the foundation for the more advanced aspects of your bachelor’s degree. 

Complete a Master’s degree

The next step is finding an institution that offers a master’s degree in neuroscience. During your degree program, you will usually be guided to specialize in a particular field. Good options include cognitive neuroscience or developmental neuroscience. Your program should include courses in brain and nervous system disorders as well as data analysis. 

Earn a Ph.D. and M.D. 

You need to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree before you can start working as a Neuroscientist, as well as complete a medical residency to gain the necessary work experience. You must then sit and pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam. This will allow you to diagnose and treat patients if you want to pursue this route.

If you have your sights set on conducting advanced research, you will need to earn a Ph.D. This program typically takes between five and six years to complete. Earning a Ph.D. will also allow you to work in the specialization of your choice.

What About Psychology Or Psychiatry?

If you don’t have the funding but still want a rewarding career, then psychology or psychiatry could be an amazing option for you!

Let’s start with our in-depth Neuropsychologist Job description, which still falls within the neuroscientist field, followed by How to Become A Psychologist, as well as our Child Psychologist Job Description, and even our School Psychologist Interview Questions to help prepare beforehand.

Next, if you want to take it a step further, find out How To Become A Psychiatrist, and for some insight into positions, our Child Psychiatrist Job Description, or perhaps even try our Speech Therapist Job Description, and Speech Pathologist Job Description, along with our Behavioral Health Technician Job Description.

Becoming a counselor is another approach to helping people, so check out these career guides, such as our Counselor Job Description and Counseling Psychologist Job Description, as well as our Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description in 2023.

What Does A Neuroscientist Do? – Final Thoughts

It takes many years to become fully qualified and licensed to work as a Neuroscientist. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and money on your education. While this can be a challenge for many people, you will be able to reap the rewards later.

Choosing this career will help you to make a difference in the lives of many people. In terms of salary, this can vary widely, depending on your specialization and where you work. While the average salary is around $73,000 per year, you could earn double that, if not more, by working for a pharmaceutical company.

All the very best in your career as a Neuroscientist!

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