Medical Neuroscience

“Medical Neuroscience” explores the organization and physiology of the human central nervous system. This course is designed for first-year students in graduate-level health professions programs. It builds upon knowledge acquired in prior studies of cellular and molecular biology, general physiology, and human anatomy. The course provides students an understanding of the essential principles of neurological function, from cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural signaling and plasticity to the organization and function of sensory and motor systems. This course emphasizes the neural and vascular anatomy of the human brain and spinal cord, providing an anatomical framework for localizing lesions within the central nervous system. It also emphasizes the neurobiological foundation for understanding cognition, mental illness and disorders of human behavior.

The overall goal is to equip students in the health professions for interpreting impairments of sensation, action and cognition that accompany neurological injury, disease or dysfunction. Students currently pursuing advanced studies in the brain sciences will benefit from this course by learning the fundamentals of functional human neuroanatomy and how neuroscience discovery translates to clinical practice. Health professionals will benefit from the opportunity to review and update knowledge of foundational medical neuroscience.


  • Experimented with offering a very rigorous, 12-week health sciences course; over two offerings of the course, 1,112 students completed all the work for the Statement of Accomplishment.
  • Made the online materials available as supplementary materials for students at both Duke University and the Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS) Graduate Medical School. Course materials will also be reused at medical schools in Vietnam and Malawi.
  • Used data from his MOOC to study the relationship between student participation in the MOOC and prior training in the course subject area.

Media & Publications



  • School of Medicine
  • Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Project Uses:


Launch Date:

  • April 2013

View the project