What is the difference between cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology?

Over the last week or so I’ve been touring colleges and universities like no other. I’m really interested in the brain and how it chemically causes people to act. In listings of majors I have seen cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology all available. What’s the difference between them?

1 Comment

  1. ThePsychai said,

    Wrote on September 18, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

    Cognitive science is an umbrella term. It is generally all-encompassing and includes both neuroscience and psychology, along with theoretical studies in philosophy and even linguistics. Cognitive science is a bit of a misnomer; it is not strictly a science. Granted, there are behavioral experiments and neuroimaging, but cognitive science as a whole focuses on the mind stuff.

    Neuroscience is an actual science. It is the scientific study of the brain and, in a sense, more relevant to biology than to psychology. In neuroscience, you hear terms such as neurons, axons, and synapses. It revolves around the mechanisms of the nervous system rather than subjective emotional experiences.

    “Psych” (soul) is the root of the word “psychology.” Psychology is mainly concerned with the mind, not the brain. It is the study of mental states and human or animal behavior. This is where you find self-discovering questionnaires, therapies for the psychologically distressed, and theories of mental development by Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, etc.

    It seems like you are more interested in the brain and its processes. If so, neuroscience or cognitive science may be the way to go.

    Good luck.

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