Skip to main content

HarvardX: Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Part 3: The Brain

4.9 stars
19 ratings

Discover what makes your brain tick in this third course in our introductory series in neuroscience.

8 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

121,017 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Feb 26
Ends Sep 4

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.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcripts: اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ, Deutsch, English, Español, Français, हिन्दी, Bahasa Indonesia, Português, Kiswahili, తెలుగు, Türkçe, 中文
  • Associated programs:

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.

More about this course

Skip More about this course
Honor code statement
HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.

Research statement
By registering as an online learner in our open online courses, you are also participating in research intended to enhance HarvardX's instructional offerings as well as the quality of learning and related sciences worldwide. In the interest of research, you may be exposed to some variations in the course materials. HarvardX does not use learner data for any purpose beyond the University's stated missions of education and research. For purposes of research, we may share information we collect from online learning activities, including Personally Identifiable Information, with researchers beyond Harvard. However, your Personally Identifiable Information will only be shared as permitted by applicable law, will be limited to what is necessary to perform the research, and will be subject to an agreement to protect the data. We may also share with the public or third parties aggregated information that does not personally identify you. Similarly, any research findings will be reported at the aggregate level and will not expose your personal identity.

Please read the edX Privacy Policy for more information regarding the processing, transmission, and use of data collected through the edX platform.

Nondiscrimination/anti-harassment statement
Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.

This course is part of MicroBachelors® Program in Introduction to Neuroscience MicroBachelors Program

Learn more 
Expert instruction
4 high-quality courses
Progress at your own speed
5 months
3 - 6 hours per week

Interested in this course for your business or team?

Train your employees in the most in-demand topics, with edX For Business.