Functional Aspects of the Central Nervous System
Reference DHBIOM00000012
Taught in Majors List Master of Biomedical Sciences
Theory (A) 30.0
Exercises (B) 0.0
Training and projects (C) 30.0
Studytime (D) 210.0
Studypoints (E) 7
Credit contract? Access is determined after successful competences assessment
Examination contract? This course can not be taken through this kind of contract
Credit contract mandatory if Exam contract? Separate credit contract mandatory
Retake possible in case of permanent evaluation? Yes
Teaching Language Dutch
Lecturer Luc Leybaert
Department GE05
Co-lecturers Koen Paemeleire
Key Words

Sensory signal transduction, synaptic communication and plasticity, visual system, neurovascular coupling, vestibulo-ocular reflex, pain systems, muscle & muscle spindles.

Position of the Course

This course aims at providing knowledge, understanding and insight into the field of fundamental and clinical neurophysiology based on a selection of neuroscience topics where important new findings have emerged over the past 10 years. The approach is directed towards the molecular, cellular, electrophysiological and systems levels, and includes methodological and technical research considerations.


  • Update on sensory signal transduction
  • The visual system from retina to the visual cortical areas
  • Update on excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic receptors, downstream signaling and prototypic examples of connection systems
  • Synaptic communication and role of glial cells
  • Neurovascular coupling, neurometabolic coupling and neurobarrier coupling
  • Synaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD)
  • The vestibulo-ocular reflex and the optokinetic nystagmus
  • Painsystems and mechanisms of chronic pain
  • Control of muscle length and contraction, hyperreflexivity and clonus
  • Examples of methodological and instrumentation approaches for experimental and clinical research

Starting Competences

Having successfully completed the courses General biochemistry, Biochemistry II, Molecular biology I, Molecular biology II, General physiology, Physiology of the organ systems and Human pathogenesis from the bachelor program biomedical sciences, or having acquired the relevant ending objectives by other means.

Final Competences

  • Being able to explain taste, olfaction, hearing and visual sensory signal transduction and point to new insights in this field.
  • To have knowledge of the connections, organization and functional division of the visual system from retina to visual cortex.
  • Being able to give an overview of the different postsynaptic receptor classes and explain the relation between molecular and electrophysiological data and synaptic functioning.
  • To have knowledge of the prototypic neurotransmitter connection systems in the brain and spinal cordBeing able to sum-up and explain disturbances of neurotransmitter systems in prototypic examples of neural diseases.
  • To have knowledge of glial cell functions and explain their role in neural tissue functioningBeing able to explain the principles of neurovascular coupling, neurometabolic coupling and neurobarrier coupling, and clarify the mechanisms behind these coupling phenomena.
  • Being able to define synaptic plasticity terms like adaptation, sensitization, LTP, LTD, co-incidence detection and explain their molecular foundations.
  • Being able to clarify the contribution of LTD in the adaptations of the vestibulo-ocular reflex.
  • To have knowledge on the signal transduction of pain sensation from the pain afferents to the cortical areas, and being able to explain possible underlying mechanisms of the development of chronic pain.
  • Being able to sketch the feedback circuit of muscle and muscle spindles, and explain the modifications that bring about hyperreflexivity and clonus
  • To have knowledge on key learning material (books) in the neuroscience field and being able to use primary and secondary source material to solve or document focused questions related to neuroscience.

Teaching and Learning Material

The learning material consists of references to capita selecta from handbooks, original and review publications and websites (in english). The necessary references to the learning material are communicated via the Minerva learning platform.


  • - Duane E. Haines, Fundamental Neuroscience, Churchill Livingstone, recentste editie
  • - Squire et al., Fundamental Neuroscience, Academic Press, recentste editie
  • - Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, McGraw-Hill, recentste editie
  • - Siegel et al., Basic Neurochemistry, Lippincott-Raven, recentste editie

Course Content-Related Study Coaching

via email,

Teaching Methods

Classroom lectures;

Evaluation Moments

Evaluation during examination period

Evaluation Methods

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