The PhD program of Behavioral Neuroscience originated early in 2012, when Professors coming from the former PhD program in Neurophysiology joined the previous PhD program of Psychobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience, allowing this program to significantly broaden its dimension and field of scientific interest. This led to the new program’s title of “Behavioral Neuroscience” and the establishment of a new curriculum of “Behavioral Neurophysiology”, in addition to the former program’s curricula of “Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology” and “Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience”. The PhD program in Behavioral Neuroscience is a third level course of study aimed at forming young scholars highly qualified at all levels of psychological neuroscience, ranging from cellular/molecular levels to those of neurotransmitter systems and the neurophysiological and neuropsychological bases of higher brain functions in non human primates and humans under both normal and pathological conditions. The PhD program has also full international features, thanks to a recent Multilateral Inter-university Agreement for the Establishment and Operation of an International PhD Program in Neuroscience with the Universities of Madrid (Spain), Crete (Greece) e Porto (Portugal), awarding a double PhD title. Recently, Professors from different European Universities, in which laboratories PhD students can spend periods of training and research, have joined the Faculty list of the PhD program.
The curriculum of Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology is aimed at forming researchers expert of various aspects of basic/applied psychobiology, psychopharmacology, and biology and capable of autonomous and independent research work in universities and other public/private institutions. Student formation is based on both theoretical and experimental training, consisting in seminars and practical laboratory work in the fields of the biological bases of behaviour, the relationships between nervous structures and mental functions, and the use of psychotropic drugs to investigate the function of specific nervous structures and nuclei. Particular attention is also given to methodology, focusing on most recent and sound experimental approaches to study normal/pathological behaviour at cellular and system level, largely exploiting murine animal models.
The curriculum in Behavioral Neurophysiology aims to provide an adequate theoretical and practical training to those wishing to enter the world of basic and applied scientific research in neuroscience, with particular reference to the study of the neural and cellular mechanisms of brain functions in non-human primates and humans, studied through an interdisciplinary approach. The theoretical courses and experimental activities will offer to the student knowledge on: 1. basic and advanced methods of behavioral neurophysiology, including recording of neural activity in non-human primates during cognitive tasks and motor behavior, with special reference to the study of spatial and social cognition, to the selection of goals and behavioral strategies, and to encoding of time; 2. multiscale analysis (LFP, MUA, SUA) of neuronal processes in decision making; 3. the spatio-temporal organization of efferent cortical systems and the implications of such organization on the dynamics of the interaction between cerebral cortical areas; 4. characterization of the dynamic properties of neurons in parietal, frontal and prefrontal areas in non-human primates; 5. the inter-hemispheric transfer of manual skills. We expect our PhDs to have a solid theoretical and methodological preparation for a successful career not only in academics, but also in the applied fields of neuro-rehabilitation, clinical psychology and neuropsychology, as well as in the emergent ones of neuroimaging diagnostic and neural control of artificial prostheses.
The curriculum of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience is aimed at forming researchers who are expert in the neural underpinnings of cognitive functions under normal as well as pathological conditions. The curriculum has a long tradition starting in the early 80’s (albeit with slightly different denominations), when it was founded by Professor Luigi (Gino) Pizzamiglio. The PhD program offers high level of experimental and clinical approaches in all areas of research in neuropsychology and cognitive neurosciences. The main theme is the neuroscientific approach to studying cognitive functions. The program envisages the use of a wide range of experimental paradigms and instrumentations (tDCS, TMS, fMRI, EEG, ERPs, EMG, as well as behavioural responses and eyes movements).
Training in the curriculum in Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience focuses on: 1. Providing a solid methodological training on planning novel experimental and clinical investigations; 2. Acquiring the necessary skills for using behavioural, neuropsychological, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging techniques required for studying human cognitive activity and underlying brain mechanisms; 3. In-depth analysis of recent psychological and neuropsychological models of cognitive functions.