40838 - Cognitive Neurosciences

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Giovanna Zoccoli

  • Credits 8

  • SSD BIO/09

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Cesena

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Applied cognitive psychology (cod. 0991)

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

The aim of this course is to describe the neurophysiological bases of mental functions, and specifically of cognitive functions.

All our behaviours are generated by changes in neuronal activity, which can be described from different points of view (molecular, biochemical or electrical). Specific neuronal activation or deactivation produces specific behaviours. Not long ago attributing a particular aspect of behaviour to an unobservable mental process (such as planning a movement or remembering an event) was thought to be a reason for excluding this aspect of behaviour from experimental analysis. Today our ability to visualize functional changes during normal mental activity permits even complex cognitive processes to be studied directly.

We will start from the analysis of differences between the human brain and the brain of other animal species. In particular, we will explore cerebral cortex organization through a comparative approach. Then neurophysiological bases of  cognitive functions, such as attention, learning and memory, language and emotions, will be illustrated

Course contents

1. Human brain evolution

2. Executive Functions

3. Decision Making

4. Emotion: the limbic system

5. Learning and Memory

             5.1  Explicit and Implicit memory

             5.2  Memory disorders

6. Sleep

The course will take place during the first semester (from October to December 2017) at the Bologna division of the School of Psychology and Education (address: Via Filippo Re 2, Bologna).


D Purves, R Cabeza, SA Huttel et al. Principles of Cognitive Nuroscience, Sinauer Associates, 2nd edition, 2013


M Gazzaniga, RB Ivry, GR Mangun, Cognitive Neuroscience: the biology of the mind W. W. Norton & Company; 4th edition, 2014




MJ Zigmond, FE Bloom, SC Landis, JL Roberts, LR Squire Foundamental Neuroscience : section VII: Behavioral and cognitive neuroscience,  Academic Press (only cap. 50)

Teaching methods

The course is based on lectures. However, students are expected to take an active role in discussion. 

Assessment methods

The exam is aimed to verify the acquisition by the students of knowledge related to the topics presented in class.

The exam consists of a written test with 3 open-response questions to be answered in 1 hour. During the test is not allowed the use of support materials such as textbooks, notes, computer media. The final evaluation consists of the arithmetic sum of the valuations obtained for the answers to the 3 questions.

At the end of the lessons a test will take place,  accessible to students attending the course. The exact day will be announced in class, or may be obtained from the teacher after the start of the course. To participate to this test is not necessary to register before.

Teaching tools

Slides (PowerPoint) and reading material for this course will be made available on  website:


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Giovanna Zoccoli