06551 - Neurophysiology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module the student has the knowledge and the ability to comprehend the functional organization of the nervous system, in particular the mechanisms that underlie the synaptic transmission, the sensory receptors, the reflex motor functions, the control of voluntary movement, the autonomic nervous functions and higher nervous functions.

Course contents

Concept of homeostasis

Cell physiology

Cell membrane; Membrane proteins; Cellular transport; Passive and active transport; Osmosis; Cell volume adjustment; Electrochemical gradient; Membrane potential.

Action potential
Excitable cells; Action potential generation; Electrotonic conduction, spatial and temporal summation of postsynaptic potentials. Encoding of the intensity of the stimulus in the frequency of action potentials. Structural and functional heterogeneity of nerve fibers. Propagation of action potential in unmyelinated nerve fibers (point to point) and myelin (saltatory).

Electrical and chemical synapses: structural and functional differences. Excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. Synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters. Classification of neurotransmitters. Receptors. The neuromuscular synapse.

Nervous system
General anatomo-functional organization of the nervous system; Nervous system cells; Cognitive functions: outline of electroencephalogram, language, emotions and memory

Somato-sensory system
Sensory system; Somatic sensitivity; Physiology of pain

Motor system
Motor functions of the spinal cord; Movement control: cortex and brainstem; Cerebellum: afferent and efferent morphofunctional organization; Basal ganglia: morpho-functional organization, direct and indirect pathway.

Autonomic nervous system
Morphofunctional organization of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric divisions. Action of sympathetic and parasympathetic systems on the main organs. Adrenal medulla. Central control of autonomic function. Urination. Autonomous control of immune function. Thermogenetic and thermolytic mechanisms. Skin circulation

Notes on the endocrine axes of hypothalamic-pituitary-target organs


Zocchi - Principi di Fisiologia (EdiSes)

Principles of Neural Science, Kandel, Schwartz et al Fifth Edition

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures

Assessment methods

The exam will consist in a multiple choice test. The number of questions will be 16. Each right answer scores 2.1 points and each wrong answer scores -1 point. The time allotted is 60 mins.


Due to the Covid19 emergency, the exam will be conducted online via the Zoom platform. The written test will consist of two general open questions on two of the topics covered in class. The test will last 45 minutes.

Teaching tools

Check IOL Unibo website

Office hours

See the website of Davide Martelli