Foundational Neuroscience for Perception and Action

The overall goal of this course is to equip learners to be successful in Duke’s Coursera specialization, “Perception, Action and the Brain.” To help students get the most out of the specialization, this course teaches 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.

This course is a shorter version of Leonard White’s 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”).


  • Repurposed components of the Medical Neuroscience 12-week MOOC into a 8-week MOOC.
  • Part of a series of Duke courses included in Duke’s MOOC Specialization Perception, Action, and the Brain, an online credentialing series designed especially for graduate students in the brain sciences and those working in virtual reality or gaming.

Media & Publications



  • School of Medicine
  • Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Project Use:


Launch Date:

  • March 2015