Vai al contenuto principale





Academic year 2017/2018

Course ID
Teaching staff
Prof. Alessandra Fiorio Pla
Dott. Annalisa Buffo
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
2nd year
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
BIO/09 - fisiologia
Formal authority
Type of examination

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

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

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 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 

Course delivery

Lectures and seminars

Students will be assigned specific readings on selected topics and will present and discussed together. 

  • Lectures : Attention is given to focused scientific questions, starting from the knowledge provided by the scientific literature.  Experimental approaches, results and conclusions are deeply analysed. 
  • Research assays: discussion sessions in which students will be divided into working groups focusing on the different topics of the course. 

Learning assessment methods

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

Research Assay: This at-home assignment will refer to specific topics of the course. The essay (up to 2000 characters + figures, tables and references) will be prepared by groups of normally three students and presented orally by the end of the semester. The Research Essay will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam. Correspondence between vote to the Research Essay and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23, 0.5 points; 24-25, 1 points; 26-27, 1.5 points; 28-30, 2 points. 

Final exam - This exam will be an oral exam based on the topics presented during the course. The maximum grade will be 30/30. Any additional points obtained by the Research Assay will be added to the final exam of the first exam session. Grading 31-33 will give rise to " 30 cum laude"

Academic conduct: The penality for course-related dishonesty (ei. cheating on exams, plagism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.



The main objective of the course is to convey to the students the ability to

  1. provide theoretical, technical and methodological background to critically investigate nervous system functions
  2. Drawing on knowledge and understanding of cellular and integrated neurophysiology to make accurate statements, describe complex information, provide detailed explanations and integrate knowledge.

Topics covered:

  • Cell membrane permeability: fluxes across the plasma membrane. Fluxes and lows for neutral species and electrolytes; Fick; Nernst-Plank; Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz;
  • A modern classification of transporters and pumps. Functional roles. Ion channels: classification, structural and functional properties. 
  • How to study ion fluxes through plasmamembrane and intracellular membranes? Electrophysiology: history and techniques. Patch clamp.
  • Electric Excitability of the cells. Action Potential. Hodgkin and Huxley's analyses of the squid giant axon. Amplitude and frequency coding. Postsynaptic and receptor potentials.
  • Synaptic transmission: presynaptic mechanisms; Ca2+ and transmitters release; postsynaptic mechanisms
  • Genetic approaches to control neural living cells: OPTOGENETIC, CHEMOGENETIC and MAGNETOGENETIC
  • Cellular bases of sensory physiology: role of TRP channels
  • Physiology of photoreceptors. Receptive fields of visual neurons. Retinotopic maps and columnar organization of the visual cortex. Principles of motion perception and color vision.

Suggested readings and bibliography


Lectures, selected papers and websites are available on Moodle.

For some topics selected textbooks available at DBIOS library.

Selected textbooks

  • Johnston, and Wu. Foundations of Cellular Neurophysiology. MIT Press.
  • Hille. Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes, 3rd Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Last update: 09/10/2017 21:26
Non cliccare qui!