People often ask how I got interested in the brain; my rhetorical answer is: ‘How can anyone NOT be interested in it?’ Everything you call ‘human nature’ and consciousness arises from it.

—Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

In this learning pathway you will learn about neurons, the building blocks of the nervous system, along with the major branches of the nervous system and its functions. This pathway, together with the final one, strives to explain the biological mechanisms that underlie behaviour. Given that the human abilities to think, learn, remember, sense and perceive, and even our experience of consciousness, can all be understood in the context of the firing of neurons in specific regions of our neuroanatomy, these two pathways provide a foundation for the two other micro-courses to follow.



Rajiv Jhangiani provides a brief orientation to this learning pathway on the nervous system.



By the end of this learning pathway you should be able to:

  • Identify the basic parts of a neuron
  • Describe how neurons communicate with each other
  • Explain how drugs act as agonists or antagonists for a given neurotransmitter system
  • Differentiate between the central and peripheral nervous systems
  • Explain the difference between the somatic and autonomic nervous systems
  • Differentiate between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system