Systems neuroscience is a subdiscipline of neuroscience and system biology that studies the function of neural circuits and systems. Researchers use animal models to emulate core cognitive processes. This allows for more detailed study of algorithms and neural circuits that produce the representations of the mind. Scientists examine how patterns of neuronal connections (circuits) give rise to patterns of neuronal activity, and how those patterns of neural activity give rise to overt behavioral and different internal neural states.
Systems neuroscience studies the processes that occur within our central nervous system. Animal models allow much more precise study and intervention in the neural circuits that underlie higher cognitive function. Although these models do not capture the full mental abilities of humans, they are selected such that they likely share evolutionarily conserved neuronal processing mechanisms that will generalize to human brain function.