A little bit of background. I did my undergraduate degree in medicine i.e. MBBS. I was always inclined towards academia and research, so I went for masters in human anatomy from UK (it was a taught program). My thesis was on the neural pathways of fear and anxiety as a result I ended up reading so much besides neuroanatomy, which turned out to be in the realms of neuroscience.


Now I want to pursue PhD in neuroscience either in Canada or EU and most if not all of the PhD programs that I've looked into ask for some sort of research experience and knowledge about Matlab or Python. But the problem is I don't have any research experience and there is no research taking place in this field in my country let alone my city. As far as programming languages are concerned, I have just started learning Matlab on my own.

Here are my questions: What are the chances of getting into a neuroscience PhD program (specifically) without any research experience or should I go for MRes in neuroscience, gain some research experience and then apply for a PhD.

  • I am just looking for someone to guide me in my current scenario. Nevertheless I just edited my question, attuned it a bit more to my current situation.
    – kmz07
    May 7 '15 at 9:55

First of all, something about the programming aspects of your new endeavour

  • Neuroscience research would indeed expect you to be very comfortable with at least one major programming language in use today. When I say major, I refer to the extent of its use and acceptance in a specific research community. For neuroscience MATLAB and Python do come with a wide variety of tools which can be used out-of-the-box by a researcher.
  • Another important point is that, programming is essential because otherwise there is no reasonable way to verify and test your research findings and intuition.
  • Of course there are some areas where maybe programming is not a very major issue such as behavioural psychology, but in general neuroscience would expect some programming background.

Something about your Medical Background

  • Your medical background does give you a perspective about neuroscience. However during research you would many steps aside from what you learnt at medical school. Neuroscience research would require you to go inside the behavioural and working attributes of the brain in different cases. Your medical knowledge might be an aid there, but do not think that it would be a very big gap for anyone else to manage.

I think that a masters is a better choice, unless you want to fully dip yourself in core neuroscience. A masters would give you a perspective of the subject and would allow you to gain some more experience so that when you go for choosing your thesis topic at the time of your PhD, you are clear about every perspective of your degree and make full use of it.

P.S :- I work in medical imaging on the visual perception side. Hence, I have some background in computational neuroscience on the basis of which I have given this answer. Consider what response you would give me, if I put the question to you by asking that can I go for a code medical research because I am fully interested in it ? I believe you understand the perspective now. Best of lucks

  • Point taken and thanks. I guess I already knew the answer but i wanted to ask someone else, just too make sure that pursuing another masters wasn't a crazy idea.
    – kmz07
    May 7 '15 at 12:28

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