What is Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, in particular the Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord - ie the organs that allow us to make a decision (the brain) and to relay that decision to the body (spinal cord). The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) carries instructions for actions from the spinal cord to effector organs (organs that actually do the work e.g. muscles).

One of the greatest challenges in science today is to understand how the brain performs it's myriad functions. Not just, 'how do we move?', but 'how do we learn?' and 'how do we make memories?'. These are fundamental processes that not only make us who we are, but allow us to function in the world. They are so fundamental that we don't even realise how much we use these abilities. All the everyday tasks we perform (walking, talking, sitting, standing, writing, ... typing text into web pages!!!) have been learnt at some stage of our lives. If I was to walk into a room and recognise that room as one I've been into before, I would be using a form of memory and had previously learnt that the room was familiar.

The devastating consequences of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease graphically demonstrate the extent to which we are dependent on these processes for everyday life.