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Versione italiana
Academic year
Didactic period
Primo Semestre

Training objectives

At the end of the course the student must have acquired a synthetic, clear and rational vision of the basic physiological mechanisms necessary to deal critically professional materials. In particular, the course aims at providing the basic knowledge about the neurophysiology, the physiology of the skeletal muscle, of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, renal and endocrine systems, and the resulting influences arising from an increase in motor activity.


Basic knowledge of physics, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy and cellular physiology.

Course programme

Introduction to the study of physiology. The cell membrane and its selectivity. Membrane transport. The simple diffusion. Fick's law. Passive mediated transport. The facilitated diffusion. The functions of membrane proteins. The membrane potential at rest. The law of Nernst and Goldman. Receptors. Electrical signals in neurons. Graduate potentials. The action potential. The nerve impulse conduction. Myelinated and unmyelinated fibers. Central excitatory and inhibitory synapses. The neuromuscular junction.
General properties of muscle. Skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle structure. Muscle contraction. Sliidng filament theory. Excitation-contraction coupling. Cycle of calcium in muscle fibers. Tetanus. Muscle and bones as a system of levers and fulcra. Isometric and isotonic contraction. Types and characteristics of muscle fibers and motoneurons. The motor unit. Muscle plasticity. Muscle fatigue. Energetic of human locomotion. Nerve reflexes. Proprioception. .
The autonomic nervous system.
The circulatory system. Cardiac muscle cells. The potential of cardiac contractile cells. Pacemaker cells and their potential. Myocardial cell mechanics. The conduction system of the heart. The cardiac cycle. The electrocardiogram. Blood vessels. Arterial pressure: principles of fluid dynamics. The Poiseuille law. Differential and average arterial pressure. Resistance of arterioles. Sfingomanometria. Types of capillaries. Capillary exchanges.
The respiratory system. Functional anatomy and respiratory mechanics. Ventilation. Pulmonary complication. LaPlace's law and alveolar surfactant. Exchange and transport of gases. Breathing control mechanisms.
The urinary system. Filtration, reabsorption, secretion. Renal clearance. Hydro-electrolyte balance: water balance. Vasopressin. Renal countercurrent multiplication system. Urea. Sodium balance. Potassium balance. Calcium balance. Acid-base balance. Buffers.
Functions and functional anatomy of the digestive system. Motility of the digestive system. Secretions, digestion and absorption in the digestive system. The enteric nervous system. Regulation of gastrointestinal functions.
General organization of the nervous system. The cerebral cortex. Cortical areas. The eye and the visual pathways. The ear and the auditory ways. Vestibular system. Olfaction and taste. Somatosensory system. Pain and analgesia.
The memory. Long-term potentiation and long-term depression.
Electroencephalogram and neuroimaging techniques. Biological rhythms and sleep-wake cycle.
The motor cortex, The cerebellum. The basal ganglia. The visual cortex
Definition of homeostasis. Local intercellular communication. Autocrine and paracrine chemical communication. Hormones

Didactic methods


Learning assessment procedures

Written exam consisting of 60 questions (true or false response), Examination time: two hours,
Score: + 1 for each correct question, - 1 for every wrong question, 0 for every unanswered question; The test is passed with a minimum score of 36/60 (18/30).

Reference texts

Silverthorn D.U. Fisiologia Umana. Un approccio Integrato. Casa Ed. Pearson
German W.J. and Stanfield C.L., Fisiologia umana, EdiSES
Berne-Levy, Principi di Fisiologia, Casa Ed. Ambrosiana
Alloatti et al., Fisiologia dell'Uomo, Edi-Ermes