84345 - Physiology of Nervous System and Sensory Organs

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 Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Understand the importance of the integration of physiological processes from the molecular level to complex systems. Describe the organization and functional properties of the central nervous system, somatic sensory system, special senses, autonomic nervous system and the adrenal medulla. Describe the nervous regulation of different behavioural states and their circadian organization.

Course contents

Sensory system

Neural coding of sensations. Organization of somatosensory pathways of the body and face. Cerebral somatosensory areas. General Organization of the Tactile and Position Senses.


Nociceptive and neuropathic pain, hyperalgesia, referred pain. Peripheral modulation and central control of pain.

Special senses

Neurophysiology of vision. The two visual pathways for vision. Organization of audition and vestibular sensation: central auditory mechanisms. Maps in the brain. Spatial localization of visual stimuli and of sounds. Vestibular sensations and maintenance of equilibrium

Contributions of the Cerebellum and Basal Ganglia to Motor Control

Regulation of movement: the cerebellum (afferent and efferent morphofunctional organization) basal ganglia (morphofunctional organization, direct pathway and indirect pathway).

Autonomic Nervous System

Morphofunctional organization of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric divisions. Afferent and efferent components of the ANS. Neurotransmitters of ANS and their receptors. Action of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems on the main organs. Adrenal medulla. Central control of the autonomic functions.

States of Brain Activity

Circadian rhythms and clocks. Brain waves. EEG. Sleep Physiology.

Integrative Functions of the Nervous System

The cerebral cortex and the interhemispheric connections. Neural plasticity.


Berne Levy-Physiology by Koeppen and Stanton, VII ed. 2018, Elsevier

Kandel E.R. et al., Principles of Neural Science, V ed, 2013 McGraw-Hill

Guyton & Hall, textbook of Medical Physiology, XIII ed, 2016, Elsevier

Boron and Pulpaep, Medical Physiology, II ed, 2012, Elsevier


The textbooks are available at UNIBO libraries.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons using Power Point presentations.

Interactive methods (e.g. Kahoot, Quizizz, etc…) learned in recent didactic laboratories of UNIBO will also be added, so to have a richer interaction among students and between students and professor.

The minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 60% of lessons. Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course. Professors may authorise excused absences upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.

Assessment methods

The exam is formed by 3 parts: the Anatomy and Physiology parts are oral exams, and the Semeiotics is written.

For Anatomy and Physiology: The final examination consists of an oral test in which the student will discuss mainly two different topics taken from the program. As part of the interview, questions will also be asked to evaluate the depth of the knowledge on the two topics and on other topics of the program, the critical thinking ability that links together different aspects of knowledge and the achievement of a comprehensive understanding of the topics addressed in class.

The exam will be considered passed if the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge in each topic.

The student’s ability to move across the various topics of the Physiology program will be also evaluated. The student’s achievement of a comprehensive view of the topics addressed in class, together with their critical thought, the ability to make associations, the demonstration of rich and intelligible expression and use of specialist’s language will be evaluated with scores of excellence.

For Semeiotics the exam will consist in a multiple choice questions with single right answer test. The number of questions will be 10. Each right answer scores 3 points and each wrong answer score -0.3 points.

Teaching tools

Lectures will be done in a Power Point presentation format. The material for the slides (e.g. figures, photos) will come mainly from the suggested textbooks. All teaching material will be available to students on the UNIBO site https://iol.unibo.it/.

In order to prepare for the exam it is suggested to attend actively the lectures, study from a textbook and use both the notes taken during lectures and the material put by the tutor on the server of the University.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Patrizia Fattori