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Academic year 2020/2021

Course ID
Prof.ssa Annalisa Buffo
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
2nd year
Teaching period
To be defined
Related or integrative
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
M-PSI/02 - psicobiologia e psicologia fisiologica
Formal authority
Type of examination

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

This course contributes to the learning goals of the Neurobiological curriculum of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology. The course is aimed at providing students with the most update information on mechanisms of neural plasticity and behavioral control. In particular, the course 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.


Results of learning outcomes

At the end of the course 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:


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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

Course delivery

Due to the serious health emergency in progress and in compliance with the measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus infection, by way of derogation from what previously reported, the teaching will be provided in alternative teaching methods (scenario * -integrated solution) using the Moodle platform through the E-Learning DBios website and with telematic meetings on the WebEx platform. Instructions for using the platform are available and accessible on the UniTo website.
The measures introduced are applied on a temporary basis until the end of the emergency situation related to COVID 19.

In particular, the teaching will be provided in the form of: 

1. Lessons and discussion on the program topics live online via webex platform.

2. Recordings of webex lessons uploaded to the Moodle platform.

3. Video-recorded lessons covering the program uploaded to the Moodle platform.

Additional supplementary activities will be available on the moodel platform.


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 course. 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 at Teacher’s choice among those discussed during the course. The final grade is the mean of the anwers 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.



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.


Suggested readings and bibliography


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 

Last update: 23/11/2020 11:49
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