House of Mind

"Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind" - Jeffrey Eugenides

  • 30th July
    2014
  • 30
I'm a high school senior and want to become a research scientist in the field of neuroscience but I've found that requires a PhD. My parents don't have the money to send me to college for more than 6 years. So the question I have is if a research career is feasible with a master's degree in neuroscience. If not, is there an entry-level job I can pursue before going back for my PhD? Any advice? Also, I've been considering a double major w/ biomedical engineering. Is that a viable path?

Asked by: ash-tree-meadows

I understand your concern; I had the same one! For now, don’t worry about it. If you want a neuroscience PhD, the first thing on your agenda should be getting into college, gaining some research experience and getting an undergraduate degree. Next, you will have to apply to graduate school for neuroscience. Most programs essentially pay you to get your PhD. During interviews, you can ask about what the salary/stipend is and what benefits are included if you choose to accept. Thus, money is not a problem if you want to get your PhD. You just have to find a program that covers your stipend. So far, I haven’t heard of any program that does not cover students’ stipends. 

Also, you do not need an MS to work in a lab. If you choose to take some time in between undergrad and grad school, you can enroll in a postbac program (get paid to get experience and prep for grad school) or you can be a lab/research technician. Many people do either of these before applying to grad school. 

Good luck! 

  • 30th July
    2014
  • 30
Do you go straight from an undergrad degree into a PhD program or do you have to/should you go into an MS program first?

Asked by: benny-cucumberpatch

Many PhD programs are combined- meaning that the MS is included because they expect you to get it on the way to a PhD. Some schools require international students to have an MS before being admitted into grad school. I went straight from undergrad into the PhD program.

  • 30th July
    2014
  • 30
About how many years does it take to earn a PhD in neuroscience?

Asked by: crown-of-honor

It depends on the program, course requirements and school. Different schools have different means. At NYU, I believe it is 5.3 years (average) from start to finish in the neuroscience track. 

  • 29th July
    2014
  • 29
Brain mass and total number of neurons for the mammalian species examined so far with the isotropic fractionator.

Brains are arranged from left to right, top to bottom, in order of increasing number of neurons according to average species values from Herculano-Houzel et al., 2006 (rodents),Herculano-Houzel et al., 2007 (non-human primates), Sarko et al., 2009 (insectivores) and Azevedo et al., 2009 (human brain). Rodent brains face right, primate brains face left, insectivore brains can be identified in the figure by their bluish hue (due to illumination conditions). All images shown to the same scale. Primate images, except for the capuchin monkey and human brain, from the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State Comparative Mammalian Brain Collections (www.brainmuseum.org ). Insectivore images kindly provided by Diana Sarko, and human brain image by Roberto Lent. Rodent images from the author. Notice that some rodent brains, such as the agouti and the capybara, contain fewer neurons than primate brains that are smaller than them.

The image above is part of a review article written by one of the scientists that developed isotropic fractionation, a quantitative method that determines the cellular composition in the brain in humans, nonhuman primates and rodents. This method produces cell counts derived from tissue homogenates from anatomically defined brain regions (Herculano-Houzel and Lent, 2005 ).
Source:
Herculano-Houzel, S. (2009). The human brain in numbers: a linearly scaled up primate brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 3 (31).
Herculano-Houzel, S., and Lent, R. (2005). Isotropic fractionator: a simple, rapid method for the quantification of total cell and neuron numbers in the brain. J. Neurosci. 25, 2518–2521.

Brain mass and total number of neurons for the mammalian species examined so far with the isotropic fractionator.

Brains are arranged from left to right, top to bottom, in order of increasing number of neurons according to average species values from Herculano-Houzel et al., 2006 (rodents),Herculano-Houzel et al., 2007 (non-human primates), Sarko et al., 2009 (insectivores) and Azevedo et al., 2009 (human brain). Rodent brains face right, primate brains face left, insectivore brains can be identified in the figure by their bluish hue (due to illumination conditions). All images shown to the same scale. Primate images, except for the capuchin monkey and human brain, from the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State Comparative Mammalian Brain Collections (www.brainmuseum.org ). Insectivore images kindly provided by Diana Sarko, and human brain image by Roberto Lent. Rodent images from the author. Notice that some rodent brains, such as the agouti and the capybara, contain fewer neurons than primate brains that are smaller than them.

The image above is part of a review article written by one of the scientists that developed isotropic fractionation, a quantitative method that determines the cellular composition in the brain in humans, nonhuman primates and rodents. This method produces cell counts derived from tissue homogenates from anatomically defined brain regions (Herculano-Houzel and Lent, 2005 ).

Source:

Herculano-Houzel, S. (2009). The human brain in numbers: a linearly scaled up primate brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 3 (31).

Herculano-Houzel, S., and Lent, R. (2005). Isotropic fractionator: a simple, rapid method for the quantification of total cell and neuron numbers in the brain. J. Neurosci. 25, 2518–2521.

  • 27th July
    2014
  • 27
For someone who believes they want to go into research in neurobio, would you recommend going straight into grad school after undergrad or taking some time to try life not as a student?

Asked by: colorless-ideas

I personally would but there are many people that don’t. However, these people are usually working as lab technicians before going to grad school. These days it is rare to take time off after college, not obtain research experience and still be admitted into grad school. 

  • 27th July
    2014
  • 27
Hey, I'm from Australia, currently in my final year of high school. I want to go into neuroscience, perhaps to do research for neurodegenerative diseases like alzheimers. Any suggestions on reading material? Thanks in advance d:

Asked by: annxui

Hi, 

Below are two reviews that are publicly available on PMC. Click on the title to obtain access. If you don’t have institutional access to PubMED, you can search for reviews/papers that are available on PMC using the filters.

Modgil S1Lahiri DK2Sharma VL3Anand A4.

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and retinal degeneration have been studied extensively and varying molecular mechanisms have been proposed for onset of such diseases. Although genetic analysis of these diseases has also been described, yet the mechanisms governing the extent of vulnerability to such diseases remains unresolved. Recent studies have, therefore, focused on the role of environmental exposure in progression of such diseases especially in the context of prenatal and postnatal life, explaining how molecular mechanisms mediate epigenetic changes leading to degenerative diseases. This review summarizes both the animal and human studies describing various environmental stimuli to which an individual or an animal is exposed during in-utero and postnatal period and mechanisms that promote neurodegeneration. The SNPs mediating gene environment interaction are also described. Further, preventive and therapeutic strategies are suggested for effective intervention.

Mechanisms of neural and behavioral dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.

This review critically examines progress in understanding the link between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) molecular pathogenesis and behavior, with an emphasis on the impact of amyloid-β. We present the argument that the AD research field requires more multifaceted analyses into the impacts of Alzheimer’s pathogenesis which combine simultaneous molecular-, circuit-, and behavior-level approaches. Supporting this argument is a review of particular research utilizing similar, “systems-level” methods in mouse models of AD. Related to this, a critique of common physiological and behavioral models is made-highlighting the likely usefulness of more refined and specific tools in understanding the relationship between candidate molecular pathologies and behavioral dysfunction. Finally, we propose challenges for future research which, if met, may greatly extend our current understanding of how AD molecular pathology impacts neural network function and behavior and possibly may lead to refinements in disease therapeutics.