Fundamentals of Neuroscience, Part I

Discover what makes your brain tick in this first module of a three-part introductory series in neuroscience.

About The Course

Content and material for MCB80x.1x is currently available and open to you to study at your own pace at

We will have an open exam period for MCB80.1x from August 11th 2014 - August 24th 2014

PLEASE NOTE: This course is not hosted on the edX platform, but can be found at or An edX certificate will be rewarded after successful completion of a final exam.  If you want a certificate for this course, you MUST register for the course through EdX, even though we keep all of our material open and accessible on or

MCB80x: Fundamentals of Neuroscience is a four part course that explores the structure and function of the nervous system -- from the microscopic inner workings of a single nerve cell, to the staggering complexity of the brain, and beyond to the social interactions and societal dynamics that our brains make possible.  This is the second iteration of Part 1 of this course.  The material is currently open and accessible. 


In this first module (MCB80.1x) we’ll look at how individual neurons use electricity to transmit information.  We’ll invite you to build up a neuron, piece by piece, using interactive simulations, and we’ll take you on field trips in and around Harvard and Boston, bring you into the lab, and show you how to conduct DIY neuroscience experiments on your own.

Lessons will include video content, interactive content, forum spaces associated with the lessons, and in Lessons 3 and 4, labs and lab content. You can complete all lessons at your own pace, but to receive a certificate you must complete the exam during the 2 week period in August.

You can move around within the lessons at your own pace. The only 'graded' part of the course is your final exam. You don't have to get everything correct to 'complete' lessons, you just have to engage with the content! 

  • Lesson 1: The Resting Potential
  • Lesson 2: Passive Membrane Properties
  • Lesson 3: Action Potentials
  • Lesson 4: Action Potential Propagation

DIY Labs

Final Exam: Open 08/11/2014 through 08/24/2014

You can take the exam any time within the two week period, but you will have just one opportunity -- and a 6 hour window from when you start -- to complete the exam. We anticipate the exam will take you much less time than this (between 1-3 hours). Exams answers, and your score will be made available to you after the exam period has finished. We ask that you do not post or share the exam questions or answers.

Recommended Background

There are no formal requirements for MCB80x, though prior background in biology, chemistry and/or physics is helpful. Textbook: There is no required textbook to buy. We... see more...