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Regular version of the site
Master 2019/2020

Molecular Mechanisms of the Brain

Area of studies: Psychology
Delivered by: School of Psychology
When: 1 year, 3 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Michael Ugrumov
Master’s programme: Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: From Neuron to Cognition
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus

Abstract

«Molecular Mechanisms of the Brain» is an elective course showing that the brain is the most important and sophisticated organ that, as “a conductor”, provides the regulation of the central and peripheral functions and the integration of the whole organism. This is a necessary condition for the survival of the organism and the conservation of animal species. In addition, it is emphasized that the brain is a substrate for learning, memory and consciousness. In sum, this course provides basic information on the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms of brain functioning in norm and their impairment in pathology. The first part of the course is devoted to the analysis of the current concept of the structural and functional organization of the brain - from gene expression in individual neurons to behavior, which is the highlight of the Program “Brain Initiative Program”. Particular attention is paid to the organization of neural networks that regulate specific functions by transmitting information from a neuron to a neuron via specialized contacts, the so-called synapses, using chemical signals, neurotransmitters. A variety of neurons in accordance with their phenotype and a wide range of chemical signals used for intraneuronal communication provide specific regulation of the brain functioning. Noteworthy that the implementation of the genetic program, the expression of the phenotype and the functioning of neurons can significantly change when the environment of the neuron changes, that is, under the influence of the so-called epigenetic factors. This unique phenomenon is a background of high brain (neuro)plasticity. The second part of the course is devoted to the evaluation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain degradation and its consequences for the functioning of the whole organism at aging, as well as at acute (trauma, stroke) and chronic (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's disease, etc.) brain diseases. In this context, particular attention is paid to the current insight into the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. Throughout the course, it is emphasized that understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain functioning in norm and pathology is only possible when using a multidisciplinary approach to study it at different levels of organization, from isolated neurons (in vitro) to the entire brain (in vivo) using invasive and non-invasive methods. Fundamental knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of brain diseases in accordance with the principles of translational medicine opens up unlimited possibilities for the development of innovative technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Thus, this course will serve to understand the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying brain functioning in norm and pathology.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To provide basic knowledge about the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms of brain functioning in norm and pathology;
  • To introduce the methodology and advanced techniques for the study of the brain functioning - from gene expression to the behavior;
  • To consider preventive, translational and personalized medicine as a methodology for the development of innovative technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Gaining knowledge about the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms of brain functioning in norm and pathology;
  • Learning the main approaches - experimental models and methods for studying the brain functioning from gene expression to behavior
  • Getting a skill to critically evaluate previous and current studies of the brain and develop an optimal experimental design to solve specific basic and applied issues
  • Gaining knowledge about the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms of brain functioning in norm and pathology
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The current concept of the organization and functioning of the brain
  • Methodology and techniques for brain research with a focus on neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity
  • Specific functions of the brain
  • Brain development and its regulation
  • The role of the brain in the development of the whole organism
  • Brain diseases – etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment
  • Neurodegenerative diseases as a challenge of the 21st century
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Lecture attendance and participation in the discussion
  • non-blocking Critical analysis of selected papers
  • non-blocking Answers to questions during the classes (seminars)
  • non-blocking Final exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.2 * Answers to questions during the classes (seminars) + 0.2 * Critical analysis of selected papers + 0.5 * Final exam + 0.1 * Lecture attendance and participation in the discussion
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Borroto-Escuela, D. O., Perez De La Mora, M., Manger, P., Narváez, M., Beggiato, S., Crespo-Ramírez, M., … Fuxe, K. (2018). Brain Dopamine Transmission in Health and Parkinson’s Disease: Modulation of Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity Through Volume Transmission and Dopamine Heteroreceptors. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.7FA46BFA
  • Dickstein, D. L., Kabaso, D., Rocher, A. B., Luebke, J. I., Wearne, S. L., & Hof, P. R. (2007). Changes in the structural complexity of the aged brain. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.BDBEDC0
  • Duane E. Haines, & Gregory A. Mihailoff. (2018). Fundamental Neuroscience for Basic and Clinical Applications E-Book. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1616581
  • Huerta, P. T., & Volpe, B. T. (2009). Transcranial magnetic stimulation, synaptic plasticity and network oscillations. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.C3348A78
  • Lazarov, O., Mattson, M. P., Peterson, D. A., Pimplikar, S. W., & van Praag, H. (2010). When Neurogenesis Encounters Aging and Disease. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.48B50B17
  • Siegel, G. J. (2006). Basic Neurochemistry : Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects (Vol. 7th ed). Amsterdam: Academic Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=189661
  • Trueta, C., & De-Miguel, F. F. (2012). Extrasynaptic exocytosis and its mechanisms: a source of molecules mediating volume transmission in the nervous system. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.13E3D59D

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Haines, D. E. (2012). Fundamental Neuroscience for Basic and Clinical Applications : With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access (Vol. 4th ed). London: Saunders. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=679934