why study neurology?

James Teo james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk
Sat Jan 12 09:43:09 EST 2002

Lots of medical student who want to be neurologists here, and I would
like to add my name to that list. 

I initially thought that neurologists would be able to be delve into
cognitive issues of neuroscience which I find interesting, but on
seeing the specialty, I have come to realise a lot of neurology work
is bread-butter stuff and more about muscles, nerves and neurons
rather than thought processes. Interesting nonetheless but not the
actual initial interest. OTOH the other specialty which can lay claim
to cognition is psychiatry and I find it awash with a different
culture of thinking which I am not used to. I think the most
interesting area would be the gray area in the centre where neurology
and psychiatry meet, and it will be interesting to see which specialty
will muster the courage to stake claim to that territory. 

Between the two, I probably will end up on the side of neurology for
more mundane reasons (neurology is much less culture-sensitive when
practicing internationally, neurology more likely to bring home the
bacon, etc). Also, I feel that effective treatments that I can give
patients (cognitive disorders or not) are more realistically available
in my lifetime for neurology than in psychiatry. And at heart, I am
more comfortable approaching things biologically rather than
psychologically, although that does not mean I would totally discard
one for the other. Not to forget that the most common diseases of the
nervous system (strokes, Alzheimer's) have a distinct cognitive

However, I do think that the subspecialty of neuropsychology might
take off on its own (cognitologists or something like that) in the
next 1-2 decades if progress in neuroscience keeps going, and attract
people from neurology and psychiatry (rather like how the A&E
specialty was born and now attracts both surgeons and medics).

Basic background, so that you know how much salt to take with my above
views: Final year medical student, trained at Oxford and Royal Free.
Picked up neuroscience and psychology interest in Oxford, and popular
science reader of cognitive science rather than any real scientist. Do
have inclinations to PhD or DPhil though, and avidly eyeing the ION in

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