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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/72]  NEUROPSYCHOBIOLOGY [60/72-00 - Ord. 2020]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 48


Aim of the course is to deepen the mechanisms on the basis of the structural changes and behavioral induced by exposure to xenobiotics with a focus on substances of abuse. The initial part of the course is aimed at the acquisition of some fundamental concepts in general toxicology necessary for the understanding of the potential damage to the nervous system as a result of exposure to xenobiotics. The student will learn about the current knowledge on the role of xenobiotics in the etiophatology of neurodegenerative diseases. The second part of the course will be focus on the molecular mechanisms involved in drug addiction. In particular, it will provide a comprehensive overview of mechanisms of action, the phenomena of neuronal adaptation induced by the most important substances of abuse.
Knowledge and understanding:
Through theoretical lessons the student will acquire the critical tools and familiarity with the basic concepts of general toxicology necessary for the understanding of the potential damage to the nervous system as a result of exposure to xenobiotics and their role in etiophatology of neurodegenerative diseases.
The student will acquire also the concepts of addiction, tolerance and dependence, as well as the knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in these phenomena relatively with the most popular drugs of abuse.
Applying knowledge and understanding:
Students, at the end of the course, will have the basic knowledge of neurotoxicology and those relating to specific issues of the neurobiology of addiction, with the ability to transfer the knowledge from theoretical areas to those more generally professional (e.g. toxicological risk assessment).
Making judgments:
At the end of the course students will possess sufficient knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying the toxicity of the central nervous system in order to critically evaluate complex pathophysiological phenomena borne the entire organism. Students will gain also the tools to be able to read and evaluate the scientific literature on the topics covered in the course.
Communication skills:
Students will gain the ability to demonstrate, using correct scientific terminology, the acquisition of the concepts taught in the course through dialogue
Learning skills:
Students should have developed those learning skills to use, with a defined degree of autonomy, the skills acquired in the course for specialized applications.


Knowledge of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, molecular biology, cell physiology and general pharmacology


General principles of toxicology
Absorption, distribution and excretion of xenobiotics. Factors that influence the passage of xenobiotics in the central nervous system. Biotransformations : main reactions of phase I and phase II. Factors that influence the biotransformations. Bioactivations. The risk assessment. Toxicity studies.
Xenobiotics with neurotoxic action: mercury, lead, organophosphorus compounds, acrylamide, excitotoxicity, aspartame ; direct effects and influence on neurodegenerative diseases.
Neurobiology of addiction
Mechanisms of tolerance and dependence. Vulnerability to addiction. Use, abuse and addiction of : opioids, alcohol, psychostimulants, cannabinoids, nicotine, methylxanthines, hallucinogens, inhalants. Introduction to behavioral addiction. Pharmacological interventions.

Teaching Methods

The course is divided into lessons, that involve the use of PowerPoint presentations.

Verification of learning

Verification of learning will take place through oral examination. The final rating takes into account several factors:
Quality of knowledge: correctness and consistency
Exposition: a) Capacity expressive b) Proper use of the specific language of the discipline; c) Logical and consequential capacities in the fitting of the contents; e) Ability to associate different topics by finding common points and establish a consistent overall design f) Ability to summarize through the use of symbolism on the matter, and the graphic expression of ideas and concepts.
Consequently, judgment may be:
A) Sufficient (from 18 to 20/30)
The candidate demonstrates little acquired knowledge, superficial level, many gaps. Expressive capacity modest, but still sufficient to support a coherent dialogue; Logical capacity and consequentiality in linking elementary level arguments; Poor synthesis capacity and graphical expression capabilities rather stunted; Poor interaction with the teacher.
B) Fair (21 to 23)
The candidate demonstrates discrete acquisition of notions, but little depth, few gaps; Expressive capacity more than enough to support a coherent dialogue; Acceptable mastery of scientific language; Logical capacity and consequentiality in the connection of moderate complexity topics.
C) Good (from 24 to 26)
The candidate demonstrates a wealth of notions of rather broad, moderate depth, with little gaps; Satisfactory expressive capacity and significant mastery of scientific language; Prominent dialogic and critical spirit; Good synthesis capability.
) Excellent (30)
The candidate demonstrates a wealth of extensive and in-depth knowledge, any irrelevant gaps; High expressive capacity and high level of mastery of scientific language; Excellent dialogic capacity, a strong ability to make connections between different topics.
Laude is given to candidates well above the average.


Casarett & Doull’s “Elementi di Tossicologia” Casa editrice Ambrosiana
Goodman & Gilman “Le basi farmacologiche della terapia” McGraw-Hill

Golan “Principi di Farmacologia” Editrice Ambrosiana

Koob, Le Moal “Neurobiology of Addiction” Academic Press
Reviews and original papers on the interested topics.

More Information

Review, papers and slides

Questionnaire and social

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