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NEURAL PLASTICITY AND BEHAVIOR CONTROL

Oggetto:

NEURAL PLASTICITY AND BEHAVIOR CONTROL

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Academic year 2024/2025

Course ID
SVB0200
Teacher
Annalisa Buffo
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Year
2nd year
Teaching period
Semester 1
Type
Related or integrative
Credits/Recognition
6
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/09 - physiology
Delivery
Formal authority
Language
English
Attendance
Optional
Type of examination
Interview
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Sommario del corso

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Course objectives

This course contributes to the learning goals of the Neurobiological curriculum of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Teaching is aimed at providing students with the most update information on mechanisms of neural plasticity and behavioral control. In particular, teaching will address the brain capability to change throughout life in response to experience - a process called plasticity – that affects memory, learning and behavior. Moreover, the course will take a survey over the neurophysiological basis of behavior, address the major control systems in the brain, some of the disorders related to their dysregulation, and illustrate examples of integrative neurophysiology. The students must acquire the scientific approach necessary for the study of the function of the nervous system, through examples of function regulatory mechanisms.

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Results of learning outcomes

At the end of teaching the student will have gained a comprehensive understanding of the principles of organization of select neurophysiological functions and the mechanisms of their integration.

Expected outcomes, divided in “knowledge, understanding, abilities”, are:

Knowledge:

  • the neural mechanisms of developmental, synaptic and structural plasticity
  • the neural circuits involved in learning and memory
  • circuits that underlie emotional processes
  • states of brain activity and attention

Understanding:

  • what kind of methodological and theorical approaches (among those studied) should be used to answer a specific scientific question.
  • what information can be obtained from beavioral analysis in order to understand the neural mechanisms involved in emotional, motivational and cognitive brain processes.

Ability

  • Re-analyzing information
  • Critically evaluating scientific publications and media reports
  • Selecting robust information from a variety of sources 
  • to discuss and interpret recent advances as related to previous knowledge 
  • Extending and applying acquired knowledge  to new contexts
  • Drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification
  • Drawing on knowledge and understanding of cellular and integrated neurophysiology to make accurate statements, describe complex information, provide detailed explanations and integrate knowledge
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Program

Developmental and adult plasticity of the CNS: from synaptic and structural plasticity to learning and memory and circuit remodeling in physiology and pathology. Control systems of the brain: diffuse projection systems and related disorders. Emotions, motivation, reward. Fear and anxiety. Attention and arausal. Control of feeding behavior. Circadian rhythms and sleep.

 

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Course delivery

All lessons will be delivered in presence. 

Supplementary activities
- Students will be assigned specific readings on selected topics that will
be presented and discussed together.

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Learning assessment methods

The exam will be in an oral form. The exam is aimed at is verifying whether the student has acquired the essential information on the topics covered during the teaching. Such information will be supplied fully in lessons conducted by the teacher. In addition, during the exam it will be evaluated the ability of the student to process the information acquired and to apply them to the different areas of neuroscience. Students are expected to present one-two general topics among a selection. The final grade is the mean of the answers given during the whole exam. The “cum laude” is assigned if the student has been able to present the topics with the most appropriate depth and a thorough handling.

Exams will take place in presence. 

Suggested readings and bibliography

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Useful textbooks:

Purves D, cCabeza R, Huettel SA, LaBar KS, Platt ML, e Woldorff MG - Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience 

Purves D, Augustin GJ, - Neuroscience 

Kandel, Schwartz, Jessel, Siegelbaum, Hudspeth "Principles of neural science" - McGraw Hill 



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