94008 - Experimental Approaches to Brain And Behaviour

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Gender equality Life on land

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The student will familiarize with the experimental approaches used in laboratory to study brain and beaviour. The course will guide the student from basic knowledge about brain organization to recent discoveries, in particular on the eye-hand coordination necessary to interact with the environment. The main experimental approaches described are neurophysiology, functional neuroanatomy and psychophysical experiments. The course will include some hours of practical activities in a kinematic lab.

Course contents

Module 1

Psychophysical approach to the study of visuomotor behavior

This module introduces the students to psychophysical experiments. In particular:

1) Visual illusion studies

2) Kinematic of reaching and grasping movements

3) Eye movement recordings and studies of oculomotor control

This module includes a lab experience.

Module 2


Introduction to functional neuroanatomy underlying visuomotor behaviour

This module emphasizes the structure and functions of the primate brain, with a special emphasis on occipito-parietal and premotor cortices involved in sensorimotor processing with laboratory-based discovery.

In particular, the module introduces the students to:

1) histological and structural features of neurons and neocortical organization;

2) use of interactive digital media to explore the anatomy of the central nervous system;

3) overview of principal cortical networks involved in sensorimotor processing.

Module 3

Neural studies of visuomotor behaviour

This module describes the recentmost discoveries of the neural bases of eye-hand interactions. In particular, it presents:

1) examples of neural coding of the most skilled actions performed with our hands

2) neural circuits involved in visuomotor behavior and other cognitive functions.


Scientific papers related to the topics of the course will be provided to students.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons and a lab experience.

Assessment methods

Presentation of a scientific paper related to the topics of the course. Lab activities are compulsory.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint. VICON Motion-tracking system. Matlab. MRIcron, CARET and other open source platforms for 3D visualization of brain structures

Office hours

See the website of Rossella Breveglieri

See the website of Annalisa Bosco

See the website of Michela Gamberini