96024 - Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Barbara Monti
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: BIO/09
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Molecular and Cell Biology (cod. 5825)

Learning outcomes

This course provides students with an advanced knowledge of cellular neurobiology and molecular mechanisms of brain functions, as well as to make students able to apply this knowledge to specific aspects of nervous system physiopathology. This course is an overview of advanced topics in neurobiology and is designed to introduce and discuss the biological models, the techniques and the research strategies employed in this research field, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying the structure and function of the nervous system. The course is divided into three general topic areas: cell biology of the nervous system, molecular mechanisms in the brain functions and their alterations in neuropathologies. At the end of the course, the student is able to: understand and discuss properly main aspects of nervous system physiopathology; read and comprehend scientific articles; use this neurobiology background for advances experimental purposes.

Course contents

1. Brief outline of brain anatomy and introduction to bioinformatics tools for anatomic study of CNS: Brain Atlas.

2. Advanced approaches in neurobiology: from optogenetics to neuroimaging.

3. Cellular neurobiology: cells of the nervous system and their interaction and communication. Biology and physiology of neurons. Oligodendrocytes and myelin sheath. Astrocytes and microglia.

5. Developmental neurobiology: cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell lineage and fate determination, cell migration, axon guidance, synapse formation and stabilization, activity-dependent development, critical periods and neural plasticity.

4. Molecular Neurobiology: biochemical, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms of cerebral physiological processes, such as synaptic plasticity, learning and memory (from invertebrates to mammals).

6. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of interaction between brain and environment: gut-brain axis and circadian rhythm.

7. Alteration of cellular and molecular neurobiology in neuropathologies: chronic neurodegenerative, prion, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases.


Luo L., Principles of Neurobiology, 1st ed.

Research articles and reviews will be provided to supplement this text.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods include both frontal and flipped class-room lectures, in which students present scientific articles that are discussed with the class.

Assessment methods

The assessment method consists of an oral examination. During the exam, students are required to discuss one of the scientific articles among those presented during the course. The article is decided by the student and discussed in an open-book manner, without ppt presentation. Then the exam will continue with two questions made by the teacher on other two topics covered during the course. The final grade is given by the average of the assessments obtained in the discussion of the article and of the other two topics discussed during the exam,each of which is worth one-third of the final evaluation.

Teaching tools

The material used for lectures (power-point presentation), as well as articles will be made available to students on Virtuale.

Office hours

See the website of Barbara Monti


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