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cognitive neuroscience/psychiatry

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Jorje286, Apr 2, 2006.

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  1. Jorje286

    Jorje286 Member

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    ok, I'm really passionate about cognitive neuroscience, and I think psychiatry would be the natural equivalent when it comes to medicine, and both feilds complement each other so well.

    What is the career track that I should take so I can be a psychiatrist and a research scientist in cognitive neuroscience? Are there any specific programs for that career track?

    Thanks in advance for the help!
  2. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 Troublemaker Moderator Lifetime Donor

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    Well, you could do a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and an MD followed by psych residency. One of the graduates of our MSTP did just that.

    There are no specific programs per se, but various MSTPs will allow you to go for a PhD in cognitive neuroscience -- you'll have to see which institutions offer it.

    Academic psych residencies also have research tracks tailored for MD/PhD grads.
  3. Jorje286

    Jorje286 Member

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    I see.. thanks a lot. I think I set my career goal. Thank god, finally! :laugh:
  4. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith Moderator Emeritus

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    You might also consider behavioral neurology as another option. There is an increasingly blurred line between neurology and psychiatry these days, as we learn more about the neurobiologic basis for a number of neuropsychiatric disorders.

    For clinical specialty, I think it is important to experience what practicing that specialty is actually like (i.e. through preceptorships, 3rd year clerkships, etc). The clinical approach of a neurologist is very different from a psychiatrist and you may find you prefer one approach over the other.

    For a physician-scientist career track, MD/PhD would be your best bet. Be sure to choose a program that will allow you to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. Alternatively, if you don't want to pursue a PhD, you could go for the MD and then do a postdoctoral fellowship. There are abundant opportunities for people interested in research.
  5. WhiteRussian

    WhiteRussian Unregistered User

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    I just wanted to give you some more info, since I'm interested in a similar career track. I'll be doing my research in cognitive neuroscience and likely go the neurology route. I think depends on what types of disorders you would rather focus on as and like vader said, preferred clinical approach. I'll probably be focusing on a disorders like, alzheimers, parkinsons or autism which are more biologically approchable than say depression/anxiety/phobia. But again the line between biology/psychology and neurology/psychiatry is becoming more and more blurred.

    From the places i've looked at some MD/PhD places that are amenable to cognitive neuroscience research include Stanford, Harvard/MIT, UCLA, Wash U, Yale, Penn (smaller). This is list is obviously not a complete list, and i am likely missing some. Cognitive neuroscience such as imaging brain mapping/imaging is usually more related to the strength of the psych department, and isn't necessarily as related to their overall neuroscience ranking.
  6. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist

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    white russian is right on.

    i work in a neuroscience lab, in neuroimaging. neuology is not interested in our work.


    it seems that neurology like some disorder while psychiatry prefers others.
  7. Jorje286

    Jorje286 Member

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    PSYDR, or any other knowledegable people here about this issue, can you tell me please what are the differences between neurology and psychiatry, and what kind of disorders each one investigates?

    Also, cognitive neuroscience that deals with attention, consciosuness, memory, intelligence..etc is likely to compliment which one better?
  8. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist

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    differences include: 1) basic referral question: neurologists are going to see more stroke, als, etc pts who are demosntrating clear neurological deficits. psychiatrist will see more behavioral disordered pts. 2) attidtude: every discipline has an attitude. 3) types of tests typically ordered

    then again, the major medical guys in the study of consciousness and such are neurosurgeons. but you need to think real long and hard before you even conisder doing neurosurgery MD/phd. its one of the longest residencies out there.

    intelligence is almost a purely psychological term. as such psychologist investigate: memory, intelligence, attetntion, etc.

    neuroscience tends to do more bench work, and as such would not typically investigate these constructs.
  9. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith Moderator Emeritus

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    For information on neurology and psychiatry, do a Wikipedia search for each.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurology
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychiatry

    I would also encourage all interested to read the following article (by Joe Martin, a neurologist and Dean of Harvard Medical School):
    Martin, JB. The Integration of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neuroscience in the 21st Century. Am J Psychiatry 159:695-704, May 2002

    Basically, the reason the two fields exist as distinct entities stems almost entirely from historical reasons, rather than any rational difference. For a long time, people have artificially divided the concepts of "mind" and "body". Only in recent times have we truly begun to appreciate that the brain generates the mind and that all neurological and psychiatric disorders are ultimately biological in nature. It will be interesting to see whether the two fields merge sometime in the future.

    Clinically, there are many differences, some of which were alluded to by PSYDR. In neurology, the standard clinical encounter involves a patient interview (history), followed by an exam, which tests mental status, cranial nerves, strength/coordination/reflexes, sensory systems, etc. In psychiatry, the interview comprises virtually all of the time spent with the patient and focuses almost entirely on a mental status exam that focuses on things like general appearance, mood, thought process, etc.

    If you train in neurology, you will see patients with a broad array of nervous system disorders (i.e. Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Huntington disease, epilepsy, peripheral neuropathy, neuromuscular disorders, tumors, etc).

    Psychiatry focuses more on "mental" illnesses/behavioral disorders such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, personality disorders, etc.

    There is considerable overlap, however, and both neurologists and psychiatrists may see patients with dementia (i.e. Alzheimer disease), Huntington disease, Tourette syndrome and others. In fact, in each residency training program, you will do some of the other field, though in limited amount. There are actually some neuropsychiatry training programs, in which you get board certified in both neurology and psychiatry.

    As others have alluded, the line between the fields is becoming increasingly blurred (a line that was not present originally and artificially drawn in!). There are many neurologists and psychiatrists that are also cognitive neuroscientists. For your scientific interests, which clinical field you choose does not matter so much, unless you focus your research on specific patient populations that tend to aggregate to one field.

    My advice would be to attend a medical school MD/PhD program that will let you do a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. From doing 3rd year clinical clerkships in neurology and psychiatry (and 4th year electives) you will see which field you like better.

    Good luck!
  10. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith Moderator Emeritus

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    I just wanted to add that as a neuroscientist myself, I have to say that neuroscience is a very broad field and includes a wealth of neuroimaging work that has provided fundamental insight into cognitive processes. Indeed, it is a very exciting time to be able to investigate the neurobiology of things like attention, memory, language and even social cognition!
  11. Jorje286

    Jorje286 Member

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    Thank you PSYDR and Vader. I really appreciate your help.
  12. PublicHealth

    PublicHealth Removed

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  13. drhaibane

    drhaibane M.D./Ph.D. Candidate

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    Are you in this program? I'm considering applying to this one in May as my top choice. I'm interested in studying neurolinguistics or intelligence...
  14. cadilakgrl

    cadilakgrl science nerd

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    great post Vader. also very nice article. psychiatry research seems much harder to me because there is so little known about the biology of depression, and schizophrenia. but that's what makes it exciting right? it's interesting that the pathology (or lack of) in a disease like parkinsons compared to depression has really separated the way research and patient care is approached. maybe this has also influenced society's opinon of mental illness (i.e. being in someone's mind and not really having a biological basis). hopefully this will change one day as more discoveries are made in the lab :)

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