Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Neurophysiology

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Physiology and Biochemistry

DESCRIPTION Following an introduction to the cellular organization of the nervous system, this study-unit describes the electrical and chemical properties of the fundamental unit of the nervous system, the neuron, and how neurons communicate with one another. It then surveys the physiology and functional anatomy of movement, vision, pain perception, hearing, vestibular sensation, and memory. Both the normal functioning and particular pathologies of these systems will be discussed. The study-unit also surveys the etiology of nerve injury and the cellular mechanisms for peripheral over central nerve regeneration.

Study-unit Aims:

The aims of this study-unit are to teach the students the fundamental principles underlying basic neurophysiology through concepts that integrate basic anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology in both health and disease.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to understand the following:
• Structure and subdivisions of the nervous system;
• Cellular organization of the nervous system and basic neurocytology;
• Special electrochemical properties of the fundamental unit of the nervous system, the neuron;
• Mechanisms underlying electrical impulse (action potential) formation and conduction. Electrochemical events that occur at the site of inter-neuronal communication, the synapse;
• Fundamental neurophysiological processes of the sensory systems, such as transduction and adaptation;
• Pathways for touch and pain/temperature sensation, from the skin to the somatosensory cortex;
• Biochemistry of phototransduction and adaptation in photoreceptors, and neural retinal circuitry;
• Central visual pathways, including the retino-geniculo-cortical pathway, and how these contribute to visual perception;
• Anatomy of audition, and mechanisms of acoustoelectric transduction and sound localization;
• Mechanisms of vestibular transduction, central vestibular pathways, and the etiology of common vestibular disorders;
• Lower and upper motor control circuits, and the etiology of common motor pathologies;
• Brain areas involved in memory acquisition and storage, and associated memory pathologies;
• Mechanisms of synaptic plasticity thought to underlie several forms of learning and memory;
• Failure of regeneration in CNS and regeneration in the PNS with clinical applications for regeneration.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• Have a general understanding of the workings of the nervous system.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

• Neuroscience at a Glance by Roger Barker, Stephen Barasi and Michael J. Neal, 2nd edition. ISBN-10: 1405111240.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
True/False Questions Examination (1 Hour) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Claude Julien Bajada
Ruben Cauchi
Richard Muscat
Mario Valentino (Co-ord.)
Neville Vassallo
Christian Zammit


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.