1. Knowledge and understanding. Students will have to reach a good basic knowledge on the ethical principles regulating animal experiments, on the techniques and results obtained by the main animal psychobiology studies and on the relevance of those results on the understanding of analogous and homologues mechanisms in human.
2. Applying knowledge and understanding. Students will have to be able to use the theoretical knowledge acquired during the course, for example for the evaluation of recent studies and experiments in the field of animal psychobiology.
3. Making judgments. Students will have to develop critical thinking and reflection on methodological issues related with animal experiments and on the relationship between these issues and the reliability/generalizability of the results in a comparative approach.
4. Communication skills. Students will be required to acquire the ability to critically present and discuss the basic principles of the discipline both in a written and oral form.
5. Learning ability. Students will have to exhibit their capacity to learn the most recent theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the neural basis of sensory, motor and cognitive functions in animals and humans.
Basic knowledge in neurophysiology expected from graduate students of psychological disciplines.
Course contents summary
See extended program
Cognition and behavior between ethology and neuroscience. Animal experimentation: ethical and legal aspects. Behavioural, anatomical and neurophysiological methods for studying animal cognition. Nervous cells and behavior: historical and comparative perspective. Visual functions. Somatosensory function. Auditory function. Cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Motor control: reflex schema, central pattern generator, corticalization and lateralization in an evolutionary perspective. Mirror neurons and comparative approach to motor-based cognitive functions. Spatial navigation: reference systems. Problem solving. Tool-use. Social learning. Social and communicative skills. Theory of mind and emotions.
Simone Pollo. Umani e animali: questioni di etica. Carocci Editore, 2016.Frans de Waal. Siamo così intelligenti da capire l’intelligenza degli animali? Raffaello Cortina, 2016.Scientific papers suggested during the lessons: all this material will be made available on Elly platform.
Assessment methods and criteria
Written and oral exams, based on a database of open-questions progressively made available during the course on Elly platform, together with details on evaluation criteria.