WLK - Katedra i Zakład Fizjologii

Neuroscience Curriculum

Course outline


 Textbooks: required - Todd W. Vanderah, Douglas S. Gould “Nolte's the Human Brain” 7th ed.

 recommended - Oswald Steward "Functional Neuroscience" 
ames A. Weyhenmeyer, Eve A. Gallman “Rapid Review Neuroscience”





 1. Short overview and the development of nervous  system

Brain size  in different species. Principles of NS functioning. The three major levels of CNS function.

Neuron - general structure and its consequences. Terminology concerning nervous system structural components (definitions). Gross anatomy of the nervous system: general divisions of the nervous system -  the cerebrum; the diencephalon; the brain stem; the cerebellum; the spinal cord; cranial and peripheral nerves. CNS navigation. Functional division of brain cortex. Blood supply to the CNS. Brain capillaries,  blood-brain barrier. Circle of Willis and related pathology. Stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic. Venous outflow from CNS. Cerebrospinal fluid: production, composition, functions, circulation. Hydrocephalus as a result of CSF flow or reabsorption disorders. Brain edema. Development of CNS and most common defects.


2. Cell biology of neurons: neuronal cell structure and its relation to function- neuronal membranes and cytoskeleton, different systems of axonal transport and their molecular background.  Neuron- labeling methods. Growth cones and proteins essential in axonal growth. Classification of neurons based on: 1. the number of neurites, 2. dendrites, 3. connections, 4. axon length, 5. neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitter criteria. Major classes of neurotransmitters.

Different types of channels, forces influencing ions – electrical gradient, chemical gradient, equilibrium potentials, the Nernst equation, distribution of ions across the membrane, relative permeabilities of the membrane at rest, the Goldman equation. Resting potential. The action potential: phases, membrane currents and conductances, patch-clamp method. All or none rule.  Sodium channel blockers. Local anesthetics. Cable properties of the membrane – time constant, space constant. Action potential conduction (impulses conduction) – factors influencing conduction velocity. Myelination and conduction. Classification of  neurons. Demyelinating diseases – e.g. Multiple Sclerosis.

Cell biology of glia: types of glial cells in the CNS, function of CNS glia, clinical disorders involving glia; glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, degeneration and regeneration in the nervous system. Components of central and peripheral myelin. Degeneration and regeneration in PNS and CNS, difference causes.


3. Synapse Major components of the CNS and their relationships. Synapse - synaptic delay and postsynaptic amplification   Types of synapses: electrical and chemical. Asymmetric and symmetric synapses. General organization and function of chemical synapse: allosterism, postsynaptic receptors, synaptic vesicles, miniature potentials.  The cholinergic synapse: synthesis and degradation of acetylcholine. Markers of cholinergic pathways and synapses. Channelopathies. Neuromuscular junction and substance influencing conduction in it. Myasthenia gravis.

Postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptors and signal transduction cascades. Functioning of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors.

Catecholaminergic synapses: synthesis and degradation of NOR and other catecholemines. Adrenergic and dopaminergic synapses- membrane receptors and transporters. GABA-ergic and glicyne synapse. The glutamatergic synapse – classes of glutamate receptors. Excitotoxicity. Serotoninergic synapses.  Peptides as neurotransmitters, peptidergic synapse. Major neuropeptides. Atypical neurotransmitters: endocannabinoids, nucleotides, gases. Synaptic vesicle proteins and their role in the mechanism of vesicles docking and release. Vesicle docking proteins as targets for different neurotoxins.


4. Information processing – neuronal integration.

From input to output, interneuronal relations: facilitation, inhibition, disfacilitation, disinhibition, summation (spatial and temporal). Spatial summation of subthreshold  and suprathreshold inputs (occlusion). Convergence and divergence. Sensory gating. Neural circuits.

Sensory receptors: Classification according to the nature of stimulus: 1. mechanoreceptors, 2. thermoreceptors, 3. nociceptors, 4. photoreceptors (electromagnetic), 5. chemoreceptors. Classification according to the source of stimulus: 1. telereceptors, 2. exterereceptors, 3. interoreceptors. 4. proprioreceptors. Modality of sensation – specificity of nerve fibers for transmitting only one type of sensation. Definition of sensory receptor. Transduction of sensory stimuli into nerve impulses – receptor potential. Adaptation of receptors: tonic and phasic receptors. Labeled line code, Doctrine of specific nerve energies, Law of projection. Receptive field.

Somatosensory system. General characteristic of somatosensory system. Major classes of somatic receptors. Cutaneous and subcutaneous  receptors. Mechanoreceptors. Temperature sensation. Substances activating different membrane Trp channels. The two sensory pathways for transmission of somatic signals into the CNS: the dorsal column - lemniscal system and the anterolateral system. Segmental organization of spinal cord - dermatomes. Effects of the spinal cord sensory pathways lesions. Brown-Sequard syndrome. Somatosensory thalamus. Somatosensory cortex. Somatic association areas. Somatotopic organization of primary sensory cortex. Corticofugal connections. Barrel cortex as model of CNS plasticity.

Pain sensation: pain receptors and their stimulation. Substances in nociception. Herpes and pain. Capsaicin. Localization of  pain receptors. Dual transmission of pain signals into the CNS. A pain control (analgesia ) system in the brain and spinal cord - the brain opiate system - the endorphins and enkephalins. Referred pain, visceral pain, parietal pain. Hyperalgesia. The thalamic syndrom. Headache.

Trigeminal system


5. Motor system- major components of somatic motor system. Major motor activities.

Motor unit, repetition of skeletal muscle physiology. Reflex, different spinal reflexes. Reflex arc. Muscle proprioreceptors (spindles) and their role in maintaining muscle tension. Alfa and  gamma motoneurons. Alfa motoneuron as final common pathway. The gamma loop. The muscle stretch reflex (myotatic reflex). Clinical applications of the stretch reflex – muscle jerks. The Golgi tendon reflex and its importance. The withdrawal reflex (the flexor reflex). Rhythmic motor patterns –spinal motor generators. Control of voluntary movements. Organization of human motor cortex. Motor homunculus. Corticospinal tracts. Changes of muscle stretch reflex following injury of corticospinal (pyramidal) tracts. Babinski sign (inverted plantar reflex). Major symptoms of the injury of lover and upper motoneurons. Spinal shock. Cranial nerves innervating skeletal muscles and major symptoms of their injures. ALS. Polio. Apraxia.


6. Supraspinal control of movement: Extrapyramidal system. postural control, locomotion control, voluntary motor activity. Brain stem motor centers: vestibulospinal system, reticulospinal system. tectospinal system, rubrospinal system.  Fixed postures: decorticate and decebrate posturing. The basal ganglia anatomy. Circuits of a basal ganglia: direct and indirect. Movement disorders. Hypo- and hyperkinetic disorders. Parkinson disease.Huntington disease. Comparison of rigidity and spasticity. Major loops of basal ganglia. The role of cerebellum in motor function. Cellular organization of the cerebellar cortex. Functional subdivisions of cerebellum. “Double crossing” of cerebellomotor circuitry. Cerebellar signs and symptoms.


7. Visual system: Properties of light. Optics of vision: formation of an image by a convex lens, the diopter as a unit of the refractive power of a lens, the reduced eye, the mechanism of accommodation, autonomic control of accommodation, presbyopia, errors of refraction: hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism. Correction of errors of refraction by use of lenses. Visual acuity, clinical methods of its examination. Depth perception, stereopsis - binocular vision. Eye anatomy- structure, function and pathology of transparent elements of the eyeball. Blood supply to the retina. Intraocular fluid, intraocular pressure, tonometry, glaucoma. Retina structure. Receptor and neural function of the retina. Anatomy and function of the structural elements of the retina. Photochemistry of vision, mechanism of hyperpolarization of light receptors – the intracellular cascade. Color vision. The neural function of the retina. Neurotransmitters released  by retinal neurons. Lateral inhibition. Three different types of retinal ganglion cells: M, P, K. RGCs and their axons forming optic nerve as a parts of CNS. Dark and light adaptation. Central neurophysiology of vision, principal visual pathways from the eye to the visual cortex, retinotopic mapping in LGN and cortex. Striate cortex. Visual perception. Extrageniculostriate pathways

 The papillary light  and accommodation reflexes (Argyl-Robertson pupil), papillary dilation pathway, the control of eye movements, conjugate gaze. Clinical correlations: MLF syndrome, Horner’s syndrome, papilledema.


8. Auditory system. The nature of sound,. Anatomy of ear, cochlea and organ of Corti, depolarization of hair cells, the role of outer hair cells, discrimination of sound frequency – tonotopic organization of auditory system. Central  auditory pathway, auditory cortex, major types of auditory pathology, objective and subjective methods of auditory system examination.

Vestibular system and the maintenance of equilibrium

The vestibular apparatus, detection of linear acceleration by maculae and angular acceleration by semicircular ducts, peripheral and central connections of the vestibular system, vestibulo-ocular reflexes. Disorders affecting vestibular system. The chemical senses: smell and taste The olfactory system: olfactory membrane, olfactory epithelium, olfactory neurons, odorant receptor family  as one of a largest multigene receptors family in the genome, second messenger systems in odorant recognition and depolarization of  the neuron and generation of action potentials. Transmission of smell signals into the CNS: the very old, the old and the newer olfactory pathways. Inhibitory feedback to the olfactory bulb. Vomeronasal organ. The gustatory system, taste buds, molecular mechanisms involved in different taste recognition: receptor-coupled second-messenger pathways and ion channels (type I, II and III cells). Transmission of taste impulses into the CNS.


9. Autonomic (vegetative) nervous system.

Three principal parts of ANS;  overview of  sympathetic division, overview of parasympathetic division. General organization of vegetative pathways, pregenglionic and postganglionic fibers, cholinergic and adrenergic synapses. Fates of neurotransmitter in sympathetic as well as parasympathetic junction. Structure and function  of autonomic ganglion. Types of neurons in autonomic ganglion. Receptors of the effector organs. Specificity of adrenergic junction Autonomic reflexes. Adrenal medulla. Sympathetic and parasympathetic “tone”. Pharmacology of both sympathetic and parasympathetic division.

Central regulation of visceral function: Medulla oblongata centers. Hypothalamus: hypothalamic functions and centers ( hunger, thirst, thermoregulation, biological clock ). Stress and the brain. Clinical correlations e.g. Horner syndrome. Influence of limbic system. Bidirectional interactions between cortical and autonomic functions.


10. Limbic system: components of limbic system, connections of the limbic system, connections of the limbic system, principal circuits of the limbic system, functions of the limbic system including orbitofrontal cortex. Long-term potentiation as one of  mechanism of synaptic plasticity involved in memory processes.  Behavioral  functions of the limbic system. Symptoms resulting from damage to components of  the limbic system.

Modulatory systems of the brain stem:  activating and inhibiting systems of the brain stem. Neurohumoral control of brain activity. Descending reticular system- fixed postures. Ascending reticuler system - synchronization and desynchronization. EEG,  sleep-inducing system, sleep phases and cycles, functions of the REM sleep, sleep centers, sleep disorders. Levels of consciousness – Glasgow coma scale, disturbances of consciousness. Modulatory systems and the regulation of consciousness.

Brain cortex, parcellation of  different areas. Higher cortical functions, intellectual functions of the brain and learning and memory –definitions, mechanisms involved in. Phases of memorization . Different types of memory. Endocrine effects on brain and their relationship to behavior. Cognitive functions pathology - dementia, evaluation of cognitive functions – MMSE. Alzheimer’s disease –modern concepts of neurobiological background.


11. Conditioned reflexes, conditioned stimulus, external and internal inhibition of conditioned reflexes. Unconditioned reflexes as a basis for conditioned reflexes learning (associative learning). Habituation (nonassociative learning) . Types of unconditioned reflexes. Physiology of language, language processes, speech  center and its subdivisions, language disorders: aphasia, alexia, agraphia, acalculia. Hemispheric specialization. Split-brain patients. Neurobiological background of mental illness: I. Anxiety disorders, II. Affective disorders- mood disorders, III. Schizophrenia

 Modern concepts in neurobiology. Neurotrophic factors and their putative future therapeutic role in neurodegenerative diseases. Genetic modifications in neuroscience. Transplantation techniques in human therapy. Stem cells - perspectives in the therapy of PNS and CNS pathologies.