1)The objective of the Curriculum on MOTOR AND SENSORY ORGANIZATION OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM will be the study of the physiological mechanisms of the motor and sensory system. The students will learn the techniques and the methodologies used in the study of motor and sensory systems. In particular it will be possible to learn the technique of magnetic stimulation of the cerebral motor areas and of the cerebellum, the kinematic and electromyographic evaluation of voluntary and involuntary movements, the electroencephalographic recording correlated to the performance of voluntary movement, the spinal and trigeminal reflexes. A further objective will be the investigation of the clinical features and of the pathophysiology of movement disorders (parkinsonian syndromes, choreas, dystonias, tremors, tics and other movement disorders) and epilepsy. Patients with movement disorders and epilepsy will be also investigated with neuroimaging techniques able to investigate the activity of cortical and subcortical structures. Students who will take part to this curriculum will learn how to perform a research project investigating the sensory-motor system in normal subjects and in patients with movement disorders and epilepsy and to perform research activity on a number of various clinical and pathophysiological features of patients with movement disorders and epilepsy.
2) The objective of the Curriculum in REHABILITATION is to study the neural mechanisms of the functional recovery in several neurologic diseases (stroke, ataxic syndromes, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis).
Patients will be studied, before and after a rehabilitation training by means of neurophysiological and neuropsycological tests, computerized gait analysis neuroimaging (functional MRI).
The data obtained will be integrated in order to define their pathophysiologic meaning and their impact on the rehabilitative treatment. At the end of the course participants will be able to increase their knowledge on the central mechanism involved in the functional recovery after rehabilitation therapy.
3) The objective of the Curriculum in EXPERIMENTAL NEUROLOGY is to gain insight into the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative, vascular and demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. Participants will have the possibility to learn basic principles of the methods used in neuroscience, including quantitative neuroimaging and molecular biology.
4) Curriculum in NEUROLOGICAL, NEURODEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS IN CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE:the student will be required to develop the capability of designing experimental trials tailored on the specific neurobiological bases of the condition which will be the topic of his/her study, according to the specific background of childhood neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Each of this areas reflects different forms of altered interaction of environmental and genetic factors affecting neurological and mental development of the child and requires to be explored by a definite metodological approach. Therefore the topic of the research plan will involve neurogenetic, physiopatological and therapeutic aspects of the disease as well as observational study aimed at the validation of clinical outcome measure depicting the natural course of the disease as well as clinical or preclinical results of innovative treatments or new diagnostic procedures.
5) The objective of the Curriculum in NEURO-OTOLOGY will be to study the effects and efficacy of cochlear implants and active middle ear implants on development and restoration of the auditory function and language. Auditory implants restore the acoustic feedback through either electrical stimulation with cochlear implantation and direct bone vibration with middle ear implants. The PhD students will learn all elements relating to anatomy and physiology of the auditory system, and electrophysiology and audiological aspects of auditory prosthesis. Finally they will develop the ability to address all issues related to auditory processing through these devices and their therapeutic efficacy on restoring the auditory and language functions.
6) The objective of the Curriculum in PSYCHIATRY will consist in early recognition of psychosis and depressive disorders and the early treatment of the first outbreaks of illness in specialized structures. Our goal is, in addition, relapse prevention, stress management and psychotherapeutic/educational interventions in group format, also including the longitudinal path of illness and the somatic suffering often associated. Although important advances have been made in recent years in several research fields (e.g. molecular biology, brain imaging), etiology, pathophysiology and neurobiological correlates of depressive disorders, generate key research questions with a high clinical impact. Particular attention is paid to the problem of differential diagnosis of unipolar depression vs bipolar depression through the introduction of clinical, genetic and endophenotipic investigation with the recruitment of relatives with mood disorders. Through diachronic studies emphasis will be given to the first depressive episodes to identify and analyze the presence of potential predictive markers of the unipolar vs bipolar development. It will be possible the access to samples of hospitalized patients or outpatients also related to various specialties in order to evaluate the comorbidity between bipolar disorders and any other general illnesses. The PhD Course is aimed to train students for research careers and to be enable them to deal with present need in the field of psychiatry, in several critical areas for the study of depression. The individual research project of the PhD student will be designed on the basis of research questions generated by scientific literature, and assessing subjects feasible in clinical and research settings available in the course.
7) The objective of the Curriculum in NEUROPHYSIOLOGY is the study of brain function at a cellular level, at various degrees of complexity, which range from the study of simple postsynaptic signals in specific cell regions to modulatory events involving intricate networks of neuronal and glial cells. It is in fact increasingly appreciated that formation and learning-dependent maturation of neural networks is controlled at the level of single cells, or even cell microdomains, under the influx of many signals, including some whose importance for neurobiology has only recently been acknowledged. Research within Neurophysiology curriculum integrates approaches such as electrophysiology in association with calcium imaging, to investigate the dynamics of synaptic transmission; biochemistry to analyze signalling cascades in brain cells; cell biology to study migration, proliferation and survival in several neuronal structures; molecular biology, to analyze the relation between structure and function of molecules involved in synaptic transmission, animal models of brain pathologies to investigate the protective effects of various treatments and the interaction with the immune system; electroencephalography, to study neural efficiency. The main aim of the research in cellular neurophysiology is to understand how synaptic transmission is modulated during development, learning, inflammation and disease and during motor tasks.