Neuroscience is branching out, according to ‘The Many Fields of Neuroscience: Shifting from Synapses to Society’ in Science Careers.
New subfields within the discipline are sprouting up as scientists are combining the study of the brain with chemistry, psychology, engineering and other sciences. Neuroscientists study everything from the behavior of individual cells to how people behave in groups.
According to Science, these are some of the up-and-coming areas of neuroscience to watch:
Scientists change the fate of cells, manipulating tissue-specific stem or precursor cells to beget types of cells that they would not normally produce. This technique may be used in the next decades to treat neurological disorders and develop personalized treatments using the patient’s own cells.
A combination of optics and genetics, using light-sensitive proteins to visualize when neurons are active and when they are inhibited. Specific cell types can be turned on and off with millisecond precision, enabling scientists to observe the roles different cells play in brain function and behavior.
How do social processes affect the function and structure of the brain? How do changes in brain chemistry and wiring affect social behaviors? This area uses a multidisciplinary approach to answer these questions and study the neural, hormonal, cellular and genetic mechanisms that are at work in humans and other social animals.