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Unit information: Neurophysiology in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Neurophysiology
Unit code PHPH20009
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kennedy
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit focuses on the physiology of the mammalian peripheral and central nervous systems. The topics include principles of neurophysiology, motor control, somatic and special senses and higher mental functions. Associated practical classes examine human neuromuscular and sensory function.

The unit includes teaching and learning related to the development of concepts and skills connected to the physiology content of the course. This includes data handling and analysis, report writing, essay writing skills and comprehension of scientific literature.

The aims are:

• To provide systematic coverage of mammalian neurophysiology

• To provide a link between the first and third year of the Physiology programme in content

• To further develop transferable and scientific skills in preparation for the final year of the programme

These aims will be accomplished through lectures, class tutorials and independent work. In addition, a focus will be on gaining experimental skills both practical and written through class practical sessions.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the this unit students should:

1. Have knowledge and understanding of the principles of neurophysiology (A3)

2. Be able to describe fundamental aspects of central nervous system function (A3)

3. Be able to give accounts of somatic and special senses and higher order nervous function (A3)

4. Synthesise, understand, manage and summarise information from a number of sources (B1, C4)

5. Carry out experiments guided by worksheets (B2)

6. Interpret and manipulate scientific data (B3)

7. Read and understand scientific literature (B4)

8. Communicate clearly in writing (C1)

9. Use IT facilities for data handling and presentation of written work (C3)

Teaching Information

  • Lectures (30)
  • Laboratory practicals (6: 3xCNS; 3xspecial senses)
  • Class tutorials (4: essay planning; practical write-up; paper review; DIQ)
  • e-learning (eBiolabs pre- and post-practicals exercises; paper review MCQ assessment hosted on eBiolabs/Blackboard)

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed through a combination of course work undertaken throughout the unit and written exam at the end of the unit.

Coursework (20%)

1. Essay; 2000 words (5%)

2. eBiolabs Post Practical Assessment (5%)

3. Comprehension of Scientific Literature (5%)

4. Short Practical Report (5%)

Each summative component will be preceded by a formative exercise, except in the case of Post Practical eBiolabs and essay writing. The summative essay will be supported by a class tutorial on constructing an essay plan and will build on formative exercises undertaken in Physiology 1 (PHPH10001). Post Practical eBiolabs-based assessments support participation in the practicals and reinforce knowledge gained in these sessions.

Peer assessment will be used in the summative assessment of the practical report to encourage both reflective and self-assessment skills. A formative practical report, assessed by academics, will precede the summative exercise to enable students to learn what is expected of them as a peer marker. This task will use structured marking proformas, which will include simple marking guidelines. Students will each assess 3 reports. Marks will be available for the feedback given; the recipient will award marks based on the usefulness of the feedback. A selection of the marked scripts will be reviewed by academic staff for consistency.

Comprehension of scientific literature will be assessed using MCQs marked electronically. This exercise will be supported by a class tutorial on how to gather information from scientific literature. Students will have access to papers and example questions prior to the summative exercise.

Final Exam 2.5hrs (80%)

Essay (1 of 4), EMQ (2), MCQ-Best of 5 (18), DIQ (1)

Reading and References

Information will be drawn from a number of sources for any one topic. Individual lecturers will make recommendations of useful information sources, both textbooks and reports in scientific journals. Some may recommend web-based materials. In this context useful textbooks include:

  • Berne and Levy Physiology, 6th Ed.
  • Berne and Levy Principles of Physiology, 4th Ed.
  • Kandel, Schwartz & Jessell: Principles of Neural Function ISBN 0071120009, 2000 Ed.
  • Bear, Connors & Paradiso: Neuroscience Exploring the Brain 2nd Ed., 2001. Lippincott

Alternative treatments of neurophysiology (but at a lower level then Kandel, Schwartz & Jessel):

Useful for experimental data analysis (simple and adequate for most problems you will encounter)

  • Medical Statistics at a Glance, Blackwell, A. Petrie & C. Sabin
  • An Introduction to Medical Statistics, Oxford, M.Bland

Alternative sources for statistics:

  • Statistical Methods in Medical Research, 2nd ed. Blackwell, P.Armitage and G.Berry
  • Intuitive Biostatistics, Oxford, Harvey Motulsky

Useful resources for numeracy and writing skills:

  • Maths skills for advanced sciences, by Ken Price, Oxford University Press, ISBN 019914740X
  • The Complete Plain Words, Ernest Gowers, Penguin.
  • Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynn Truss, Profile Books.