87464 - Semeiotics and Differential Diagnosis in Neuropsychology

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 training activity, the student: - has advanced knowledge on the functional anatomy of the central nervous system; - knows the symptoms, clinical signs and neuroanatomical correlates of the main cognitive disorders and their differential diagnosis; - knows the neuropsychological profiles and is able to make a differential diagnosis of different types of cognitive impairment; - is able to draw up a written diagnostic profile based on the use of neuropsychological tests and clinical interview; - is able to reconstruct brain lesions using software.

Course contents

The course is divided into two parts.

The first part aims to provide advanced knowledge on the functional anatomy of the central nervous system and radiological pictures (CT and MRI) of the main neurological diseases relevant to neuropsychological semeiotics and diagnosis.

In the first part, the following topics will be addressed:

1) Normal functional anatomy of.
- Cerebral hemispheres;
- Diencephalon;
- Encephalus trunk (midbrain, pons and bulb), cerebellum and spinal cord;
- Meninges, ventricles, and arterial system of the brain;
2) Localization of major cortical and subcortical nerve structures, in horizontal, sagittal and coronal sections of the brain, and in MRI and CT images;
3) Radiological pictures (CT and MRI) of the main neurological pathologies.

The second part aims to provide knowledge on

1) Possible etiologies of neuropsychological disorders.
2) clinical framework and diagnostic elements: symptoms reported by the patient, clinical signs evident through the collection of anamnestic data and data from the administration of tests designed to assess the main disorders affecting the various cognitive functions:

Face and object recognition
Perception of time
Perception of space

3) Differential diagnosis between different cognitive disorders and their lesional location


Slides, and other materials provided by the Professor.

For the preparation of the first part (anatomy), we recommend the text (optional): Sobotta Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol. 3, 15th ed., English/Latin: Head, Neck and Neuroanatomy. Authors: Friedrich Paulsen & Jens Waschke. Publisher: Urban & Fischer, Elsevier; 15th edition (2013).

For the preparation of the second part

Elisabetta Ladavas and Anna Berti (2020, 4th edition) Neuropsychology. Bologna, il Mulino.

Gazzaniga M., Ivry R.B., Mangun G.R. (2021) Cognitive Neuroscience. Bologna, Zanichelli.

Denes, Pizzamiglio, Guariglia, Cappa, Grossi, Luzzatti (2019) Handbook of Neuropsychology. Bologna, Zanichelli.

In addition, students may use articles from peer-reviewed journals to prepare for the exam.

Teaching methods

Lectures, presentation of scientific articles, discussion of cases, practical exercises through the use of computers, and programs for the reconstruction of brain lesions.

Assessment methods

The verification of learning takes place through the development of final examination that ascertains the acquisition of knowledge expected through the development of a written test and an oral test.

The examination consists of:

For the first part (anatomy)

The verification of learning takes place through the execution of a written test lasting 30 minutes. The test consists in naming regions and structures of the brain, and identify pathological pictures in CT and MRI images, on 10 anatomical tables of the central nervous system.

For the second part

The verification of learning is done through the conduct of an oral test.

The test will assess both the theoretical learning and the ability of the student to reason about a clinical case to arrive at a possible diagnosis starting from anamnestic and / or lesional data.

Partial exams

The students attending and not attending the lessons can take the exam through 2 partial tests.

The 1st partial test, lasting 30 min, on the topics covered in the first part (anatomy), will be held approximately at the end of October 2021 (the date will be communicated to students during the lessons, and published as a notice on the website of the two teachers of the course).

The 2nd partial test, oral, on the topics covered in the second part of the course, can be held in correspondence of the first and/or second call of the winter session 2022. To be admitted to take the 2nd partial test it is necessary to obtain at the 1st partial test a minimum score of 6 points.

The final grade is calculated as the sum of the scores of the two partial tests.

At each appeal, it is still possible to take the total exam.

Please note: Students who passed the 1st but did not pass or take the 2nd partial test in the Winter 2022 session must then take the exam in its entirety.

Evaluation Criteria.

The following criteria will be applied for the evaluation of each part.

For the first part (anatomy): from 0 to 1 point for each of the 10 anatomical tables correctly named; the grade will be expressed on a scale from 0 to 10 points. A score of 6/10 is considered sufficient

For the second part of the test (oral) will assess the theoretical knowledge, the ability to discuss a clinical case and the presentation of a scientific article, taken from the teaching material recommended for the preparation of the exam.

The vote of the second part will be expressed on a scale from 0 to 20 points. A score of 12/20 is considered sufficient.

In the attribution of the score is considered the degree of knowledge and depth in all three areas (theoretical, application, and discussion of the article).

The final evaluation will be determined by the sum of the scores on the two tests.

In order to take the exam, it is necessary to enroll through the Almaesami application, respecting the deadlines. Those who are not able to enroll for technical problems within the scheduled date, are required to communicate promptly (and in any case before the official closing of the registration lists) the problem sending an email to Prof. Frassinetti.

It will be the faculty of the teacher to admit them to the test.

Teaching tools

Presentation of slides, neuroanatomical atlases, neuroradiological images, video clips of clinical cases.
Reception Hours

See the website of Francesca Frassinetti [https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/francesc.frassinetti].

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Frassinetti