Neuroanatomy

Neuroanatomy deals with the inner workings of the brain. Read more about this field, and find out what degrees are available in neuroanatomy or related subjects, like neuroscience.

Is Neuroanatomy for Me?

Career Overview

Neuroanatomy is a sub-discipline of neuroscience that involves the study of the organization and function of the human brain, particularly as it interacts with the rest of the body. For instance, students might examine which areas of the brain affect specific bodily and mental functions. Neuroanatomy may be studied at all levels of education; however, degrees in neuroscience are normally found at the graduate level and include coursework in neural signal transmission and reception, molecular biology (as it relates to neural cells and circuits) and nervous system mapping.

Employment Options

With a bachelor's degree in neuroscience, you might find a few entry-level positions in biomedical or life science research. You could also qualify for some positions in the allied health field. Neurosurgeons and independent neurological researchers are among the few professionals who deal specifically with neuroanatomy; graduate education is required for these positions. If neuroanatomy interests you but you're torn between a few career options, you might like to know that a background in the neurological sciences can give you an additional, beneficial perspective in career fields like physical therapy, occupational therapy, drug rehabilitation, linguistics, pharmacy, psychiatry or artificial intelligence.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

These careers vary widely in terms of education requirements and salary. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgeons earned a mean annual wage of $233,150 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). Physical therapists earned an average of $82,180 that same year, and college professors teaching the biological sciences earned an average of $87,080.

The BLS expects job opportunities for surgeons and other physicians to increase by 18% between 2012 and 2022. Physical therapists should see employment growth of 36% during that same time period. Postsecondary biological science teachers are expected to see 19% growth from 2012-2022, per the BLS.

How Can I Work in Neuroanatomy?

Undergraduate Programs

Depending on the career you'd like to enter, educational requirements vary. If becoming a professional neuroanatomist is your ultimate goal, you can start with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Neuroscience. Core requirements typically include general and organic chemistry, physics, statistics, calculus and biology. In addition, you may take intensive courses in neurobiology, systems neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience. Advanced courses in molecular and cellular neurobiology, computational neuroengineering, neuropsychology and functional neuroanatomy may also be available, and you can participate in neurobiology and neuroanatomy labs.

Graduate Studies

Next, you can apply to a Ph.D. program in neuroscience. At the doctoral level, you can focus on a specific area of this field, such as sensory and motor processes, cognitive neuroscience or nervous system disorders. You'll likely be required to participate in several semesters of research seminars. In order to earn this terminal degree, you may need to successfully pass both written and oral exams towards the end of the program. In addition, you typically must write a dissertation and defend it in front of numerous faculty members.

Alternative Fields of Specialty

The B.S. in Neuroscience can lead to a few other graduate education options, like a physical therapy (PT) degree program. Though there are a few PT master's programs, training is typically provided at the doctoral level. In addition to neuroscience, you may study human anatomy, biomechanics and pathology. After graduating and becoming licensed, you can specialize through a PT neurological residency program, where you can study rehabilitation for brain trauma and spinal cord injuries.

Another medical field you can pursue is neurosurgery. Following a undergraduate degree, you attend medical school. Next, you can enter a neurosurgery residency program, which typically lasts about 3-8 years, per the BLS. Through this training you study brain tumors, neurovascular diseases, neuroendoscopy and spine surgery. Upon finishing the residency, you can compete for fellowships in areas like neurocritical care and stereotactic radiosurgery.

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