05181 - Physiology

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 possesses the basic notions of the physiological processes of the human organism both at the functional and molecular level. In particular, the student knows the basic mechanisms of the vital functions of certain systems of the human organism, as a necessary knowledge of the biological bases for the research, design and use of materials and machinery used in the physical health field.

Course contents

Cellular Physiology

Diffusion and membrane transport: the cell membrane, movements across membranes, diffusion osmosis and ion balances, active and passive transport, generation and measurement of membrane potential, transmembrane potentials, Nernst and Goldman equations.

Action Potential: ionic bases of the action potential, generation of the action potential, voltage-dependent channels, propagation and transmission of nerve signals, action potentials and graded, speed of propagation, saltatory conduction, myelinated and unmyelinated fibers.

Synaptic transmission: chemical synapses functional anatomy, synaptic transmission, neurotransmitters, synthesis, release, inactivation and interaction with their receptors.

Striated muscle: striated muscle cell structure, molecular mechanisms of contraction, excitation-contraction coupling, control of skeletal muscle, synaptic transmission in the neuromuscular junction, organization of the motor system.

Smooth muscle: smooth muscle classification, smooth muscle cell structure, contractile process, smooth muscle contraction control: chemical and hormonal modulation of muscle contraction.

System physiology

Anatomo-functional organization of the nervous system: neurons, glial cells, brain, sub-brain structures, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system.

Sensory systems: general principles of sensory physiology, functional organization of sensory systems, structure and function of sensory receptors, receptor coding of sensory stimuli.

Somatosensory system: tactile sensitivity, proprioception, thermoception and pain, ascending pathways and cortical processing of the afferents.

Visual system: structure of the eye, vitreous body, aqueous humor and vascular structures of the eye, optical properties of the eye, accommodation reflex, pupillary reflex, eye alterations, photoreceptors and retina, eye movements, central visual pathways.

Auditory and vestibular system: principles of acoustics, external, middle, internal ear, central auditory processes, semicircular canals and otolithic organ, central vestibular pathways and vestibular reflexes.

Motor control: hierarchical organization of motor systems, reflex movements, descending motor pathways, posture and locomotion, voluntary movement, cerebellum, basal ganglia, initiation of movement by the primary motor cortex, movement planning by the frontal cortex.

Autonomic nervous system: anatomical-functional organization of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic section, enteric nervous system, central control of the autonomic nervous system and interactions with the neuroendocrine system.

Hormonal control of behavior: endocrine system and hormones, functions of the main hormones, thyroid, adrenal and pancreatic. Hypothalamus and pituitary, gonads, reproductive behavior.

Circulatory system: general scheme of the cardiovascular system, functional anatomy of the heart, structure of the myocardium, small large circulation, change in blood pressure and volume in the atria and ventricles, genesis of the heart rhythm and electrical conduction in the heart, refractory period of the heart , control of excitation and conduction in the heart, cardiac output, regulation of cardiac output, regulation of heart rate and systolic output, characteristics and functions of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, veins and lymphatic vessels, capillary exchanges, blood flow control local, blood pressure values, blood pressure regulation systems: rapid, medium, and long-term control.

Respiratory system: functional anatomy of the respiratory system, characteristics and functions of the upper airways and alveolar tissue, mechanics of pulmonary ventilation, changes in intrapulmonary and intrapleural pressure during the respiratory cycle, changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide pressure in the lungs and in the tissues, gas exchange, oxygen and carbon dioxide transport in the blood, oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve and its functional significance, genesis of the respiratory rhythm and nervous and chemical modulation of the respiratory rhythm.

Renal system: water and saline homeostasis, functional anatomy of the urinary system, processes of urine formation, glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption, urine concentration, renal control of the osmolarity of body fluids and plasma concentrations of electrolytes.


Recommended book:

- FISIOLOGIA dalle molecole ai sistemi integrati. Carbone, Aicardi & Maggi, II ed. EdiSES 2018.

Suggested books:

- VANDER FISIOLOGIA- Widmaier et al., 2018, casa ed. Ambrosiana.

- FISIOLOGIA - Stanfield, IV ediz, Edises, 2012

- Fisiologia – un approccio integrato. Silverthorn. Pearson Education Italia - 2010.

- Fisiologia medica. Guyton & Hall, Edra Ed., XIV edizione italiana, 2021.

- Berne-Levi-Fisiologia casa editrice ambrosiana, 6 edizione italiana, 2010

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons using Power Point presentations.

Assessment methods

The final exam consists of an oral exam in which the student will discuss two different topics from the program. The exam will be considered passed if the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge in both topics. In particular, if the answer is deemed sufficient, each question is evaluated with a variable score between 18 and 30 with honors. The achievement by the student of an organic vision of the topics discussed in the exam combined with their critical use, the demonstration of an expressive mastery and specific language are evaluated with marks of excellence. The mostly mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, the capacity for synthesis and analysis not articulated and / or a correct but not always appropriate language lead to discrete evaluations; training gaps and / or inappropriate language lead to grades that do not exceed sufficiency. Each of the two questions weighs for one half in the calculation of the final grade. Insufficient evaluation of the answer to even one of the two questions makes the test insufficient.

Teaching tools

The teaching material is available on the "Online teaching" website.

Office hours

See the website of Annalisa Bosco

See the website of Matteo Filippini