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Systems Neuroscience: from Neurophysiology to Perception and Behaviour


Tuesday, 1 October 2019 to Friday, 28 February 2020
Total hours: 40
Hours of lectures: 40

Examination procedure

  • oral exam


- Basics on sensory physiology.

- The course is tailored to MSc (IV-V year) and PhD students.


 The course will focus on how sensory inputs can be transformed into the brain constructions called "perceptions". After recapitulating the neuronal and synaptic properties underlying the transformation of sensory inputs into neural signals, plus the different types of neural plasticity, this goal will be accomplished by discussing selected brain systems, namely:

- Visual system, review of phototransduction, basic properties and concepts (retinal receptive fields, cortical computational modules, sensitivity to spatial and temporal frequencies, orientation selectivity), visual illusions as windows on perception generation, stereopsis;

- Auditory system, review of mechanotransduction, perception of sounds from pure tones, localization of sound sources;

- Pain and touch, review of somatosensation and nociception, brain structures and circuits involved in generating pain perceptions;

- Thalamus, its role in integrating and filtering sensory information;

- Hippocampus, a hub for integrating sensory inputs to form episodic memories, along with "time" and "space".

  Educational goals:

 Understanding how the various features of the external environment can be encoded by different sensory modalities to create an internal representation of the world, which can endure in time through a process of memory formation.

Bibliographical references

- Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, V edition, McGraw-Hill

- Nicholls et al., From Neuron to Brain, V edition, Sinauer

- Stone, Vision and Brain, MIT Press

- Gregory, Eye and the Brain, V edition, Princeton Unversity Press

- Buzsaki, Rhythms of the Brain, Oxford University Press

- Somjen, Ions in the Brain, Oxford University Press