First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Psychology
Course unit
PSO2044172, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2019/20

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
PS1932, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination DEVELOPMENTAL AND AGING BRAIN
Department of reference Department of General Psychology
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction English
Single Course unit The Course unit CANNOT be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit is available ONLY for students enrolled in COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND CLINICAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY

Teacher in charge CLARA CASCO M-PSI/01

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses M-PSI/01 General Psychology 6.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 42 108.0 No turn

Start of activities 07/10/2019
End of activities 18/01/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2017 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
7 2019 01/10/2019 30/09/2020 CASCO CLARA (Presidente)
BATTAGLINI LUCA (Membro Effettivo)
GRASSI MASSIMO (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: none in particular
Target skills and knowledge: 1. Learn functional consequences of central sensory system pathology during lifespan.
2. Utilize the principles of perceptual learning and interference methods as tools to induce neural plasticity during treatment of sensory deseases.
3. Learn the relationship between assessment and treatment in clinical reasoning.
4. Learn to appreciate the importance of appropriate outcome measures to support evidence based practice.
Examination methods: Consists in three parts:
PART 1 (in-class, individual evaluation): ability in Research Critique: will be evaluated, as one in-class exam, both the student presentation and critical contribution during the PRACTICAL WORK N. 1
PART 2 (at the end of the course, individual evalutation): consists of about 20 questions aiming at assessing the student theoretical knowledge regarding on the material presented in the Course Notes and in
during the lessons
PART 3: (at the end of the course, individual evaluation)consist in evaluating the students capability of solving the clinical problems and answer the questions relative to PRACTICAL WORK N.2
Assessment criteria: Research Critiques (in-class practical work) 20%
Theoretical knowledge 40%
Exercices: Problems and clinical questions 40%

tot 100%
Course unit contents: The course consists of an introductory part in which I will address some basic concepts of plasticity in the developing brain. In particular, I will focus on the phenomenon of “rise and fall” of postnatal brain development, i.e. dendritic arborisation , axons growth, synapses growth , and on the basic aspects of plasticity in the adolescent and aging brain.
In the second part of the course I will develop further some fundamental concepts of neural plasticity, namely, mechanisms of neural plasticity and cortical reorganization, "experience expectant plasticity", "use-dependent plasticity" and "experience dependent plasticity".
In the third part of the course I will focus on two methods to induce plasticity in the human brain: perceptual learning and transcranical current stimulation

In the fourth part of the course I will describe the anatomical and neurophysiological bases of plasticity in the dorsal and ventral pathway of visual and auditory system as well as the development and aging of Magnocellular and parvocellular functions. This introductory session will be used as a framework to describe the plasticity phenomena in the developing and aging sensory system. In particular, for the developing sensory system, I will describe the effect of missing visual experience on cortical development. For the aging sensory system I will develop in detail the majors issues of neuropathology and sensory decline, plasticity mechanisms to compensate sensory decline and reversal of cognitive decline by inducing positive plasticity in sensory system.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: A) LESSONS each week for 11 weeks
B)PRACTICAL WORK N.1 (weekly: from the second to the fifth week, with individual evalutation of the student)
Class Presentation of research, article critiques
The class will be divided in 6 groups. Every week, for four consecutive week, each group will be required to prepare a PPT presentation of one selected article to the remaining groups, whose members are asked to discuss (The amount of time we can devote to each presentation will depend on the class size.):
Guidelines for group-presentation of articles:
The PPT presentation must specify proposal must specify: Title, ntroduction (Aims of the study, Hypotheses or Questions),Method (Participants, Measures, Procedures)Results, Discussion-

Class critical discussion
Following each group presentation the remaining groups will be required to discuss strengths and limitations of the presented article.
- Discuss on the relevance of the main problems or questions to be investigated in the paper
- Discuss the opportunity of the choosen independent and dependent variables.
- Criticize the methods of the study including the sample selection, hypotheses, statistical analysis s and procedures.
- Evaluate orally the strengths and weaknesses of the paper

PRACTICAL WORK N.2 (occasionaly during the lessons and in the last three lessons)

Solve clinical problems and answer clinical questions
Students will be trained to solve problems and answer questions relative to:
- differential diagnosis in visual neuroscience
- predictions on the outcome, in term of neural plasticity, following rehabilitative protocols in visual neuroscience
- relationship between neural networks and sensory tasks
- relationship between functional impairment and neural network deficit
- the application of the appropriate rehabilitative relative protocol
Additional notes about suggested reading: A "selected reading" of relevant scientific papers will be provided,available in Moodle
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Huttenlocher P.R.,, Neural Plasticity. The Effects of Environment on the Development of the Cerebral Cortex. Harward: Harward University Press., 2009. the reading of this test is not mandatory Cerca nel catalogo