• Length:
    8 Weeks
  • Effort:
    3–5 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
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  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Associated Programs:

Prerequisites

None.

About this course

Skip About this course

The human brain is a fantastically complex system, capable of transforming a torrent of incoming information into thought and action. In this course, we will look at how the various subsystems of the brain work together to enable us to survive and thrive in a changing world.

Each lesson will challenge you with interactive segments, animations, and documentaries that explore the richness and complexity of the brain. Our forums will provide you with a place to meet other students around the world, and you can learn from each other through a series of discussion questions.

Do you want to learn about how brains perceive the world? Join us as we explore sensation, perception and the physiology of functional regions of the brain.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How sensory perception works in the brain
  • How the physiology of vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, motor control and other senses work
  • The basic anatomy of functional areas of the brain
  • The visual system of the brain
  • How the motor subsystems of the brain execute and coordinate our movement.
  • The critical brain systems that keep alive
The human brain is a fantastically complex system, capable of transforming a torrent of incoming senses into thought and action. In this module, we will look at the brain from a human-centric viewpoint, exploring how the various subsystems of the brain work, enabling us to survive and thrive in a changing world.

Lesson 1: Vision
One of the most developed senses in humans is our vision. In lesson 1, “Vision,” we take a deep dive into the visual system. How do we see, and more importantly, how do we understand what we see?

Lesson 2: Audition
One of the many ways we communicate with one another and create community is through sound. In lesson 2, “Audition,” we will go on a journey that follows the path of sound waves as they are detected in the ear and processed in the brain.

Lesson 3: Touch, Taste, Smell, and the Remaining Senses
There are more than just five senses in the animal kingdom. Consider eels with their ability to sense electric fields or vampire bats that can track down prey via infrared detection. In lesson 3, “Touch, Taste, Smell, and the Remaining Senses,” we explore both the remaining traditional senses - touch, taste, and smell - as well as some of the more unusual ones.

Lesson 4: Movement and Action
Perceiving the world is useless if we cannot act. The motor subsystems of the brain execute and coordinate our movement. In lesson 4, “Movement and Action,” we discuss how the nervous system makes your muscles contract in a coordinated manner, so that you can move and interact with your surroundings.

Lesson 5: Subcortical Brain Areas
While a highly-developed cortex is one of the key hallmarks of humanity, there's quite a bit more to the brain than cortex. In lesson 5, “Subcortical Brain Areas,” we explore the critical brain systems that keep us alive, help us orient to stimuli in our environment, and allow us to form new memories.

Lesson 6: Brain Anatomy
In the last lesson of this course, “Brain Anatomy,” we wrap up our investigation of the brain with a closer look at the structures found in the sensory and motor systems in a real human brain.

Meet your instructors

David Cox
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Computer Science
Harvard University

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