93505 - Cognitive Neuroscience and Brain Plasticity

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Alessio Avenanti (Modulo 1) Sara Borgomaneri (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Cesena
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Psychology of Wellbeing and Social Inclusivity (cod. 5700)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students know the brain processes underlying maturation, plasticity and aging and the associated changes in cognitive and emotional functions across the life span.

Course contents

The course is designed to provide advanced knowledge of the neural basis and functional mechanisms of human behaviour, affective and cognitive processes and their alteration in patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders, drawing on both theoretical and methodological contributions of current literature, and integrating different methodological approaches, with practical examples in the areas of brain health, well-being and social neuroscience.

The course involves 2 modules, whose specific contents are the following:

Avenanti's Module (2 credits, 15 hours)

  • Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience

Borgomaneri's Module (6 credits, 45 hours)

  • Brain maturation
  • Processing emotional and social information: Theories of emotions, perceptions of emotions, fear conditioning and empathy
  • Healthy aging: changes in behavioral and neuroanatomical substrates


Scientific papers and other course materials for this course will be made available at the course website. These readings are mandatory to pass the final exam.


Suggested bibliography:

  • Banich, M.T. & Compton R.J. (2018) Cognitive Neuroscience, 4th Edition. Cambridge University Press.

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures during which the topic of each module will be interactively discussed, group discussions of neuroscientific papers, works in small groups with class presentation, seminars presented by experts and practical sessions.


Students will also be able to take lessons online via Teams software.

Assessment methods

Students will be asked to present and discuss scientific papers during the course (in progress assessment). Moreover, at the end of the course, they will take a written exam with 4 open-ended questions (1 question for module 1 and 3 questions for module 2) to complete in 80 minutes (approximately 20 minutes per question).

Up to 30 points will be assigned to each answer to the four open-ended questions. The final mark is calculated as the mean of the points assigned to each of the four questions. The following criteria will be applied for the evaluation of each answer:

- Up to 15 points will be assigned if the answer demonstrates extensive knowledge and understanding of the subject;

- Up to 12 points will be assigned if the answer demonstrates critical thinking and the ability to integrate different aspects of the topic;

- Up to 6 points if the answer is well-written, and logically articulated.

During the exam students are not allowed to consult any materials, such as textbooks, notes, electronic devices.
It is necessary to sign up for the examination through the dedicated website, and within the deadline. Any problem in registering through the website should be promptly communicated to the administrative staff.

Teaching tools

Slides (PowerPoint) and video clips

Office hours

See the website of Sara Borgomaneri

See the website of Alessio Avenanti


Good health and well-being Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.