Harvard’s Online Neuroscience Course Educates with Enticing Animation

Harvard’s Online Neuroscience Course Educates with Enticing Animation
Arts & Culture

Engaging videos make fundamentals of neuroscience fun

Marnie Kunz
  • 27 october 2014

If science has never been your forte, Harvard’s Fundamentals of Neuroscience could change that. Using engaging animated videos, the free online course offers a thorough introduction to neuroscience in easily digestible videos to accompany the lessons. The course, MCB80x, is led by pioneering Professor David Cox. Cox and a crew of creative-minded experts have teamed up to offer enticing animated videos to go along with the online lessons on neuroscience.


Using whimsical characters and real-life scenarios to explain happenings in the brain, the Fundamentals of Neuroscience videos entice even the most skeptical of students to follow along. For example, the video on neuromodulation explains the physiological process by comparing it to going on a date and running into your ex. Using cute animated characters, the video breaks down a complex process into an easily digestible, memorable form.

Another video in the course, Fleet Week, uses the animated analogy of sailors from different countries – the U.S. and Britain, as well as male and female characters – to illustrate the process of diffusion of neurons.


Harvard’s Fundamentals of Neuroscience course aims to take online education to higher levels by exploring lessons outside of traditional lecture hall formats. The lessons include reading materials, simulation activities and videos. The team behind the project is continually working to update the lessons in an ongoing educational experiment to bring a topic traditionally reserved for graduate students and doctors to the general public. Using tools such as video animation and hands-on neuroscience experiment kits – called SpikerBoxes from Backyard Brains – the course breaks down a complex subject for public consumption and learning.


The course’s creator, Professor Cox, is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Computer Science at Harvard University and is a member of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience

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