78450 - Neurophysiology

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: - knows the general physiological processes and functional mechanisms of excitable cells; - will understand the physiological basis of muscle contraction, the main functional characteristics of skeletal muscles, force modulation and is able to use this knowledge for the purposes of training methodologies and programs of motor activity; - knows the principles of the sensory-motor integration, especially with regard to neuromotor control; - knows the main principles about the neurophysiological basis of integrative higher nervous functions, such as alertness, attention, memory, learning and language.

Course contents

Cellular physiology

Transmembrane transport

Passive and active transports. Homeostasis.

Membrane potentials

Rest membrane potential. Action potential Equilibrium potential. Local potential. Na+/K+ pump. Action potential propagation.


Chemical synapse. Electrical synapse. Neurotransmitters. Synaptic potential.

Muscle contraction

Skeletal muscle. Contractile cells. Sliding filament theory. Contraction of motor unit. Smooth muscle.

Mechanical contraction of skeletal muscle

Motor unit. Type of contractions. Isometric and isotonic contractions. Fatigues, DOMS. Electromyography.

Muscle adaptations to training

Functional modifications induced by training.

Sensory receptors

Receptor classification. Sensory transduction.

Physiology of the nervous system

General principals

Functional organization of the central nervous system. Sensory-motor integration and autonomic integration. Signal coding.

Tactile sensibility

Type of somatic sensibility. Cutaneous receptors. Receptive fields.

Pain sensibility

Pain receptors. Pain type. Gate-control theory.

Sensory systems

Fotoreceptors and retina physiology. Functional organization of the visual pathway. Visual cortex. Ocular movements. Functional organization of ear receptors and of the acoustic pathway. Acoustic cortex. Vestibular receptors.

Spinal cord and spinal reflexes

Functional organization of the spinal cord. Neuromuscular spindle and Golgi receptors. Stretch reflex. Flexor withdrawal reflex. Locomotion control.

Brainstem and vestibular system

Reticular formation. Vestibular reflexes. Postural reflexes. Postural control.

Voluntary movements

Types of voluntary movements. Premotor and motor cortices. Functional organization of the descending pathways. Cerebellum.

Superior integration


Autonomic nervous system (ANS)

Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system. Membrane receptors. Thermoregulation.


Dee U. Silverthorn: Fisiologia umana. Un approccio integrato

Widmaier, Raff, Srang: Vander, Fisiologia

Teaching methods

Lectures and test. Simulation exam at the end of the course.

Assessment methods

The knowledge of the course of Neurophysiology will be verified by written examination.

Registration for the examination is made through Almaesami web site. Results of the exams will be published on Almaesami web site.

Teaching tools

Gamification platforms, overhead projector, PC, video projector

Office hours

See the website of Milena Raffi

See the website of Alessandro Piras