Psychobiology: theories and methods (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Mirta Fiorio, Michele Scandola
Mirta Fiorio
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A dal Sep 24, 2018 al Nov 10, 2018.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

General aims:
1) Knowing and undertanding the psychological theories that explain the fundamental processes related to the functioning and adaptation of the individual to the physical and social environment;
2) Applying the theories related to the functioning of individuals, groups and organizations to the understanding and analysis of learning phenomena and of personal and social change;

Specific objectives: The course aims at providing the theoretical and methodological framework necessary to understand the neurobiological correlates of human behavior and cognitive functions. Through the study of the main techniques and methods to investigate the neuronal activity (EEG, fMRI and TMS) and human behavior, the teaching also aims at providing the tools to evaluate and analyze the functional changes in the individual. At the end of the course, the student should prove the ability to link the main biological and neuronal mechanisms to the functional and adaptation processes of the individual to the physical and social environment.


The program will touch the main issues addressed in Psychobiology, such as memory, learning, attention, perception, action, language. All of these cognitive functions will be dealt with a physiological point of view, by describing also the neural bases.

Introduction to Psychobiology:
a) Background
b) the principal methodological tools and techniques

Biological bases of behavior:
a) neurons and synapses
b) neuronal circuits
c) long-term potentiation

The cycle "perception-action"
a) from sensory stimuli to motor outputs
b) movements and actions
c) the neural basis

a) endogenous and exogenous attention
b) experimental paradigms
c) the neural basis

a) types of memory: short-term and long-term
b) experimental paradigms
c) the neural basis

The language:
a) the main theories on language
b) the neural basis

a) theories of conditioning
b) experimental paradigms
c) neural mechanisms

The brain plasticity:
a) virtuous and harmful plasticity
b) functional reorganization
c) inter-hemispheric inhibition
d) neuromodulation

a) centra and peripheral theories
b) components of the emotions
c) biological bases

Teaching methods
Teaching consists of frontal lessons, for a total of 36 hours (6 CFUs). The first lesson will serve to guide students thought the course: information will be provided about the program, the lesson schedule, the reference textbooks, and the exams. In addition, for each topic discussed during the lessons, the reference will be provided to the chapters in which that topic is described. Additional materials will be provided on the e-learning platform of the University.
Throughout the academic year, a student reception service is available, with a weekly fixed schedule.

Suggested textbooks
- Gazzaniga MS, Ivry RB, Mangun GR. Neuroscienze Cognitive. Ed Zanichelli.
- The slides of the lectures will be available on the web page for the Course.
- Bibliographic references to scientific papers published in international journals will be provided.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
VITTORIO GIROTTO, MARCO ZORZI Manuale di psicologia generale Il Mulino 2016
Gazzaniga, Ivry, Mangun Neuroscienze Cognitive (Edizione 2) Zanichelli 2015

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists for all students of one written test with 31 closed questions and multiple choice answers. The written test is intended to ensure knowledge and understanding of the topics addressed in the course and covers all the topics discussed during the lessons. The ranking of the written test will be expressed in scores of thirty.