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Foundational Neuroscience for Perception and Action

Duke University via Coursera

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Overview

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This course is a shorter version of my medical school-caliber course, Medical Neuroscience. Like its parent course, this shorter course covers the organization and physiology of the human central nervous system. The focus of Foundational Neuroscience for Perception and Action is on the basic components of the brain and spinal cord, the means by which nerve cells generate electrical signals and communicate, the neural mechanisms of synaptic and circuit plasticity, and the organization of the sensory and motor systems that integrate experience and motivate behavior. Unlike its parent course, this shorter course is not so clinically focused. Rather, it aims to explore foundational mechanisms in neuroscience without emphasizing the competency of localizing lesions in the human central nervous system (a major focus of Medical Neuroscience).

The overall goal of this course is to equip learners to be successful in our specialization, Perception, Action and the Brain. To help you get the most out of our specialization, this course will teach you the basic neural mechanisms that makes it possible for the human brain to contend with an onslaught of sensory signals and generate successful behavior for survival and flourishing in a complex world. Thus, the other two courses in Perception, Action and the Brain will introduce you to the phenomenology of what we see and the means by which the brain generates visual representations (Visual Perception and the Brain), and challenge you to understand how the brain creates our sense of spatial location from a variety of sensory and motor sources, and how this spatial sense in turn shapes our cognitive abilities (The Brain and Space). The role, then, of Foundational Neuroscience for Perception and Action is to give you a "look under the hood" so that you can understand the neural mechanisms that operate at the level of synapses, circuits, and sensorimotor systems. You will then use this intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the human central nervous system as you take on the final project in our specialization.

This course is for advanced baccalaureate and prospective or current graduate students who are pursuing degrees in the brain sciences. It is also for students or professionals in technical fields concerned with human factors in computing, virtual reality, or gaming who are interested in understanding how the brain generates perceptions and actions. Teachers who are interested in understanding how the brain works as a means to enhance their curriculum in science education, or just to enhance student learning more generally will benefit. As will anyone who is simply curious about how the brain contends with sensory information and produces action.

Syllabus

This course comprises four units of content:
  • Unit 1 Neuroanatomy. This unit covers the surface anatomy of the human brain, its internal structure, and the overall organization of sensory and motor systems in the brainstem and spinal cord.
  • Unit 2 Neural signaling. This unit addresses the fundamental mechanisms of neuronal excitability, signal generation and propagation, synaptic transmission, post synaptic mechanisms of signal integration, and neural plasticity.
  • Unit 3 Sensory systems. Here, you will learn the overall organization and function of the sensory systems that contribute to our sense of self relative to the world around us: somatic sensory systems, proprioception, vision, audition, and balance senses.
  • Unit 4 Motor systems. The course concludes with a survey of the brain and spinal mechanisms that govern bodily movement.

Taught by

Leonard White

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Reviews for Coursera's Foundational Neuroscience for Perception and Action
4.3 Based on 4 reviews

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  • 1
Luke L
2.0 4 years ago
by Luke is taking this course right now.
Overall the course is very dry and resembles more of an academic core dump. In order to succeed in this course and get something useful out of it, the student has to be very motivated and flexible. S/he needs to bypass the boring video lectures and access other resources on YouTube in order to figure out what Dr. White is trying to teach.

Positives:

- This is the basic building block necessary for future careers in the area of neuroscience in medicine, medical technology, etc.

- Lots and lots of information

- Alternate resources in the course…
3 people found
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Li-wei S
5.0 4 years ago
by Li-wei completed this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
If you're looking for a course where you can cruise, this one is NOT it.

Even though this is a shorter version of Medical Neuroscience, it will require a decent amount of hard work outside of watching the videos and reading the course notes, especially if you have had no background in human biology related subjects.

If you are interested and willing to put in the time and effort though, this is a wonderful course to get acquainted with basics of the central nervous system (i.e. the brain, spinal cord and the systems that allow you to sense the world, and motor output that allow you to move and act in it. It's amazing that we can have a course like this, of such detail, freely available these days.

Dr White is an excellent instructor, and his knowledge and enthusiasm are wonderful. His style is more "professorial", so those who need to be "entertained" to learn might have to muster their own discipline.
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Michaël J
5.0 4 years ago
Michaël completed this course.
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Matteo F
5.0 4 years ago
by Matteo is taking this course right now.
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