The course will start from the mechanisms of animal movement, including the evolutionary, ecological and energetic aspects; we will explore the anatomical and mechanical features of the body machinery (such as muscles, bones and tendons) before investigating the structure and dynamic function of the neuronal circuits driving and controlling movements. We will thus examine neuronal function at various levels, allowing the students to familiarize themselves with many fundamental concepts of neuroscience; the theoretical lectures will be complemented by practical exercises where the students will study movement in themselves and their peers in the motion capture laboratory environment as well as with more classical approaches.
BLOCK 1 (4 weeks): The physical reality of movement
- Environments, evolution and fitness
- Movement styles - running, flying, swimming
- Mechanics of movement - forces, angles, timing
- Body mechanics - muscles, bones, tendons
BLOCK 2 (5 weeks): Movement generation
- Reflexes and drive in neuromuscular control
- Principles of neuronal circuit function
- Pattern generation in spinal systems
- Ascending brainstem pathways - reflex modulation
- Descending brainstem pathways - drive and modulation of locomotion
BLOCK 3 (4 weeks): Moving with purpose
- Motor cortex - commanding descending pathways
- Somatosensory cortex - monitoring movement
- Adjusting movements - sensory feedback, cerebellar systems
- Motor learning
- Linking motor behavior to cognitive function
This is a basic level course, which will be adjusted according to the interests of enrolled students. No prior knowledge assumed, and suitable for out-of-field students.
However, the course B26 Introductory Neuroscience is required if you intend to continue with additional Neuroscience courses.