84301 - Physiology of Musculoskeletal System

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 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

Understand the importance of the integration of physiological processes from the molecular level to complex systems Describe the mechanisms and regulation of muscle function. Describe the neurophysiology of motor function, from spinal reflexes to cerebral cortical control. Describe the mechanisms and regulation of bone metabolism.

Course contents

Skeletal muscle
Structure of skeletal-muscle cell. Molecular mechanism of the contraction. Excitation-contraction coupling. Control of skeletal muscle contraction. Neuromuscular synaptic transmission.

Spinal Reflexes

Local spinal circuits. Higher control of spinal reflexes. Characteristic alterations in reflex response and muscle tone after damage of central nervous system.


The motor unit and muscle action. Sequences of muscle contractions . Central pattern generators. Descending pathways.

Voluntary control of movement

The functional organization of movement: cortical maps of the body. The primary motor cortex. The corticospinal tract.

The organization and planning of movement

Premotor cortex and movement preparation. Posterior parietal cortex and its role in movement control.

The control of gaze

The extraocular muscles. Types of ocular movements and their neural control.


Requested textbooks:

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

The textbooks are available in 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 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.

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 on the designated digital platforms (servers) of the University.

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