Introduction to Neurobiology: from Neuron to Brain

Scuola Normale Superiore
16/11/2021 to 31/03/2022

Course Description

Main Course 1. Introduction to synaptic plasticity (Hebb’s rule, LTP, LTD, BCM theory). 2. Short term plasticity (paired pulse facilitation, paired pulse depression) 3. Transition from short- to long-term plasticity: the role of de novo transcription and translation 4. Activity-dependent transcription. Rapid calcium-dependent transcription of immediate early genes. c-fos, Arc, BDNF, Npas4. CREB and late response genes. 5. Axonal and dendritic targeting of mRNAs. 6. Local protein synthesis in the presynaptic and the post-synaptic compartments 7. Biochemical pathways linking synaptic activity to translation initiation 8. Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) and LTD 9. Synaptic tagging and capture. Cross-tagging. 10. Inverse synaptic tagging. Functions of Arc 11. Homeostatic plasticity. Spike time dependent plasticity 12. Generalities on memory. Memory traces and engram cell assemblies. Consolidation and reconsolidation. Neural code. 13. Genetic tagging of active neurons. 14. Neuronal assemblies o@r synaptic assemblies? 15. Erasing specific memories: necessity of engram cell assemblies 16. Instating specific Sufficiency of 17. False memories. Fully synthetic memories. Switching emotional valence to memories 18. Direct testing of the synaptic plasticity theory of memory. 19. Synaptic engrams and experimental methods to study them 20. Introduction to neuronal development (1) 21. Introduction to neuronal development (2) 21. Critical periods for synaptic plasticity 23. Adult neurogenesis and memory 24. Regeneration of CNS neurons. Supplementary teaching (24 hours/12 Lectures): 1. Ionic channels-introduction and general properties. 2. Classification of voltage gated channels and their functional role. 3. Membrane potential: Nernst and Goldman equation 4. Passive properties of the membrane/Active properties: the Action Potential and the Hodgkin and Huxley model. 5. Synaptic transmission general properties of chemical and electrical synapses. 6. Quantal analysis 7. Classical neurotransmitters systems-neuropeptides. 8. Integrative properties of the synapse. 9. Neurotransmitter release- quantal theory – probability of release/ Molecular mechanisms of NT release. 10. Ionotropic receptors. 11. Metabotropic receptors and Neurotransmitter transporters. 12. New insights on the role of microglia in the regulation of synaptic transmission.

Subject area

Life sciences

Field area




The cours aims at giving an advanced and rigorous Introduction to Neurobiology. I will link the biophysical mechanisms of electrical excitability and of synaptic transmission, to the detailed description of synaptic plasticity and of the cellular and molecular basis of memories in the brain. The course is based on experiments and all statements will be grounded on an experimental basis.


General and basic knowledge of molecular and cell biology and of physiology. Students of other disciplines are most welcome and any requirement of previpus knowledge can be discussed individually.





Validation mode

Oral Examination

Maximum number of students




Scuola Normale Superiore


Scuola Normale Superiore


Classe di Scienze

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