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Academic year 2024/2025

Course ID
Alessandra Fiorio Pla
Annalisa Buffo
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
2nd year
Teaching period
Semester 1
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/09 - physiology
Formal authority
Type of examination

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

This teaching contributes to the learning objectives included into the Neurobiological area of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology - Biologia Cellulare e Molecolare, providing knowledge and applicative abilities. In particular, the course is focused on the relevant issues of Neurophysiology and aims to foster basic knowledge of students on cellular neurophysiology and electrical signals transmission as well as integrated knowledge of neurophysiology. Additional objective points to a quantitative analysis of some conceptual and technical approaches to neurophysiological mechanisms including specific hands on in modern Neuroscience labs using cutting edge techniques in the field by means of invited seminars.

For each item, students learn how to highlight the specific scientific question, to interpret data, to discuss the experimental approaches employed by the authors.

The course is organized in 6 ECST and aims to provide theoretical, technical and methodological background to critically investigate nervous system functions.


The main objective is to build a solid background on cellular and integrated neurophysiology in order to develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret the results of the related scientific literature. 


Results of learning outcomes

  • Have strong knowledge of the cellular and integrated neurophysiology 
  • Re-analyzing information
  • Critically evaluating scientific publications and media reports
  • Selecting robust information from a variety of sources
  • Extending and applying knowledge of cellular neurophysiology to new contexts
  • Making reasoned predictions and generalizations from experimental evidence and theoretical information
  • 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
  • Discuss the strenght and limitations of the results published on research papers, eventually identifying sources of errors and biases
  • Communicating cellular neurophysiology findings and concepts fully, appropriately and using a variety of different modalities 


  • Prof Fiorio Pla Alessandra 3 CFU
  • Cell membrane permeability: fluxes across the plasma membrane. Fluxes and lows for neutral species and electrolytes; Fick; Nernst-Plank; Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz; 2h
  • A modern classification of transporters and pumps. Functional roles.
  • Ion channels: classification. 2h
  • How to study ion fluxes through plasma membrane and intracellular membranes? Electrophysiology: history and techniques. Patch clamp. 2h
  • Electrical properties of the cells. Graded potential. Electric Excitability of the cells. Action Potential. Hodgkin and Huxley's analyses of the squid giant axon. Amplitude and frequency coding. 4h
  • Ion channels: structural and functional properties 6h
  • Synaptic integration in CNS: synaptic transmission neuro-muscular junction . 2h
  • Synaptic integration in CNS: Ih currents (HCN); A-Type K+ currents; Inward rectifier (cenni); HVA currents in somato dentritic membranes 2h
  • Ca2+ signals and Ca2+ indicators probes 2h

Course delivery

All lessons will be delivered in presence, subject to updates on the measures adopted by UniTo which can be found on the University portal under "Provisions for those who study and work at UniTo" (see

Teaching will be provided in the form of: 

  • Lessons and discussion on the program topics in presence. Attention is given to focused scientific questions, starting from the knowledge provided by the scientific literature. Experimental approaches, results and conclusions are deeply analyzed. 
  • Recordings of webex lessons uploaded to the Moodle platform.
  • Video-recorded lessons covering the entire program uploaded to the Moodle platform.


Supplementary activities


  • Students will be assigned specific readings on selected topics that will be presented and discussed together. 
  • Practical small group workshops: students will be required to work in group to solve specific problems concerning the lectures topics
  • Practical Ca2+ imaging analyses using ImageJ

Learning assessment methods

Exams will take place in presence, subject to updates on the measures adopted by UniTo which can be found on the University portal under "Provisions for those who study and work at UniTo" (see

Examinations will be based on material covered in lectures, assigned readings, on site activities and at home assignments.

The learning assessment will be held in presence

Module Prof Vicini.

  • At home assignments: This at-home assignment will refer to specific topics of the course. The students will choose 1-2 selected questions 2-3 selected question and present a written assay (2 pages max for each topic).
  • Practical activities:

small group workshop. Students will be required to solve problems and present their solutions within the 2h of teaching.

Ca2+ signals analyses

At home assignments and practical activities will give rise to 10 points to the final grade of final exam.

Modules Prof Buffo; Prof Fiorio Pla

Oral exam – This exam will be an oral exam (in presence or ebex depending in sanitary conditions) based on the topics presented during the course. The maximum grade will be 22 points to the final grade of final exam 

Any additional points obtained by the practical and written assignments will be added to the final exam of the first exam session. Grading 31 will give rise to "30 cum laude"

Academic conduct: The penalty for course-related dishonesty (i.e. cheating on exams, plagiarism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.

Suggested readings and bibliography


Lectures, selected papers and websites are available on Moodle.

For some topics selected textbooks available at DBIOS library.

Selected textbooks

  • Hammond C, Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology, 4th edition, Academic Press, Elsevier
  • Hille. Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes, 3rd Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  • Purves - "Neuroscience" - 6th edition
  • Kandel, et al, Principles of Neural Science 5th edition


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    Last update: 12/06/2024 14:56
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