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Systems neuroscience is a subdicipline of neuroscience which studies the neural circuit function, most commonly in awake, behaving intact organisms. This research area is concerned with how nerve cells behave when connected together to form neural networks that perform a common function: vision, for example, or voluntary movement. At this level of analysis, neuroscientists study how different neural circuits analyze sensory information, form perceptions of the external worlds, make decisions, and execute movements. Researchers concerned with systems neuroscience focus on the vast space that exists between molecular and cellular approaches to the brain and the study of high-level mental functions such as language, memory, and self-awareness (which are the purview of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience).

Major Topics

Systems neuroscience relies on precise, experimental recording methods such as single unit recording, calcium imaging and psychophysics analysis are used to pinpoint the reaction of the nervous system in response to external stimulus.


Systems level analysis in neuroscience has been most extensively carried out in the visual system, which began with work of Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel in characterizing, with single neuron electrophysiology, the properties simple cells in the primary visual cortex. Research has been intensive in characterizing the receptive field properties of various brain regions involved in visual processing.




Motor generation

Higher Executive Functions

See also


  • Bear, M. F. et. al. Eds. (1995). Neuroscience: Exploring The Brain. Baltimore, Maryland, Williams and Wilkins. ISBN 0-7817-3944-6

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