BIO/09 - 7 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Learning Objectives

Physiology studies the vital functions of animals and humans, also in a comparative manner. It analyzes how the living organism maintains the homeostasis of its internal medium at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels, in the context of the surrounding environment. It studies biophysics, electrophysiological and functional mechanisms of transport and communication systems in biological membranes, cell motility and the specialized functions of single cells. It verifies the validity of functional laws in the Man and in the other primates. It evaluates the nutritional characteristics of foods, the state of nutrition, the expenditure and energy needs, the physiological use of nutrients in the diet. He studies the neurobiological and psychophysiological foundations related to the behavior and cognitive and emotional interactions between the subject and the environment. It also analyzes the integrated functioning of the various organs and systems in the course of motor activities and in extreme environmental conditions. Finally, he studies the potential applications of this knowledge in the environmental, biotechnological and sports fields.

The course also aims to develop students' interest in the experimental approach; in fact, the physiology preserves the character of a dynamic science in great evolution and provides a connection between the other basic sciences.

Course Structure

Lectures and theoretical-practical exercises. Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes. Learning assessment may also be carried out on line, should the conditions require it.

Detailed Course Content

Endocrine system

- Definition and classification of hormones. Biosynthesis, secretion and transport of hormones. Hormonal activation and inactivation. Mechanisms of action. Homeostasis of hormonal regulation.

- Neuroendocrinology. Functional anatomy of the hypothalamus and the hypophysis.

- The thyroid. Functional anatomy. The metabolism of iodine. Regulation of the thyroid function. Thyroid hormones and their physiological effects. Thyroid interaction with other endocrine systems.

- The adrenal cortex. Functional anatomy. General biosynthesis of steroids. ACTH. Glycocorticoids. Mineralocorticoids. Sexual steroids.

- Metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and other skeletal ions. Bone physiology. Parathormone. Calcitonin. Vitamins D. Other hormones that influence mineral and bone homeostasis.

- The endocrine pancreas. Functional anatomy. Physiology of insulin and glucagon.

Reproductive system.

- The female reproductive organs. Ovary function. Puberty. Menopause. Chemistry and functions of the ovarian hormones. Physiology of sexual intercourse. Contraception. Extra-ovarian hormonal influences on the ovary. Physiology of pregnancy. Circulation and fetal breathing. Lactation.

- Function of male reproductive organs. Spermatogenesis. Seminal pathways and attached glands. Puberty. Physiology of sexual intercourse. Extra-testicular hormone influences on the testis. Actions of androgens.

Nervous system.

- The spinal cord. The reflex activity. Stretch and extension reflexes. The flexion reflex. The alpha-gamma loop. The pathways of somatic sensitivity. Epicritic and protopathic sensitivity. Spinal lamination. Odology of ascending pathways. Spinal shock.

- The thalamus. The specific and nonspecific nuclei. Cortical areas of thalamic projection.

- Descending projection systems. Corticospinal, rubrospinal, reticolospinal, vestibulospinal Pathways. The extrapyramidal system. The basal ganglia: their anatomic-functional organization.

- Muscle tone. Tone and posture. Segmental and suprasegmental regulation of muscle tone.

- The cerebellum. Functional anatomy of the archi-, paleo- and neo-cerebellum Effects of cerebellectomy.

- Vestibular apparatus. Structure and function. Static and dynamic vestibular reflexes. Motion sickness. The nistagrno. Response to linear and angular accelerations.

- Sensory functions. The epicritic sensitivity (touch and kinaesthesia) and the protopathic sensitivity (thermal and pain). Muscle, tendon and joint proprioception. The ear and the hearing. The eye and the sight. The taste and smell.

- Sleep and its phases. Electroencephalographic rhythms The awakening reaction.

- Neurophysiology of behavior. Alimentary and sexual behavior. Anxiety and aggression.

- High nervous functions. Cortical associative areas and integration processes. Memory and learning. Lateralization and brain dominance. The centers of language.

- Cranial nerves. Description and function.

- The cephalic-rachidian liquid. Physical and chemical characteristics and functions. Blood-brain and blood-liquor barrier.

- Conditional reflexes. Classical and instrumental conditioning. Autogenic training. Adaptation and learning.

- Autonomic nervous system. Anatomo-functional organization of the ortho- and parasympathetic system. Visceral-somatic and somato-visceral vegetative reflexes.

Interaction between the nervous system, endocrine and immune system.

Textbook Information

Various authors - Fisiologia medica - a cura di F. Conti - Edi-ermes, Milano

Various authors - Fisiologia umana - a cura di F.Grassi, D.Negrini, C.A.Porro - Poletto Editore, Milano

Guyton & Hall - Fisiologia medica - Edises, Napoli.

Open in PDF format Versione in italiano