At first glance, the neuroscience and psychology seem like very similar disciplines. In essence, they both deal with the brain…but what sets them apart? As it turns out, there is a lot of nuance between the two, and the differences lie in which questions we want to answer. In today’s blog, we’ll be covering the differences between neuroscience and psychology. 

Psychologists study the mind in order to understand human behaviour. On the other hand, neuroscientists study the nervous system and brain, and in studying these biological constructs, they seek to understand how they function. One way to think of this is in terms of computer parts, where the nervous system and brain are the hardware, and the behaviour studied by psychologists is the software. To be a functional system, the two must exist together, not independently of one other. Subsequently, the best way to understand the mind, human behaviour, and nervous system is to study both neuroscience and psychology. 

We can thank neuroscience for bringing us advances that enable us to better understand the human brain. For example, neuroimaging has shown the link between music and language and identified the different regions of the brain responsible for sensory input. Such findings have been beneficial in areas like the treatment of brain cancer so doctors can avoid damaging critical areas. The brain is the most complex organ and is responsible for coordinating the activities of all the other organs in our body. Neuroscience has paved the way to our understanding of the brain that it begs the question, why exactly do we still need psychology?

Human behaviour is too complex to be simply examined from an anatomical and physiological perspective. Psychology has led to advances such as colour television and photography before MRIs showed which parts of the brain were engaged by them. Studies on vision and language help to build better interfaces without drawing on direct knowledge of the brain

Psychologists have identified many phenomena for which neuroscientists have yet to find analogous activity in the brain,” writes one science blogger. Neuroscientists can use psychological findings as a framework for their work to eventually identify brain mechanisms for said behaviour. Working together, psychology and neuroscience can help us understand how the brain shapes behaviour.