cod. 1009667

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Fisiologia (BIO/09)
Discipline informatiche, logico-filosofiche, psicologiche e socio-antropologiche
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

At the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. Understand the basic lexicon of neuroscience, including general aspects concerning brain anatomy and functions
2. Apply the acquired concepts to the contemporary debate on the cognitive neuroscience of language, i.e. an interdisciplinary field encompassing neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, neuropsychology, and experimental psychology.
3. Master the argumentative strategies of cognitive neuroscience.
4. Read and understand scientific texts.
5. The course will also inform the student about multimedia tools (web search engines, social networks), allowing the student to acquire additional information independently.


There are no prerequisites.

Course unit content

The first part of the course is a general introduction to neuroscience and the state of the art in cognitive science. The second part will focus on the neural basis of language processing, including language production and understanding, from a neuroscientific and neuropsychological standpoint. Particular attention will be paid to the debate concerning the link between language processing and the motor system. The course will also focus on neuroscientific and neuropsychological research carried out at the University of Parma, including those investigating the Mirror Neurons System.

Full programme

1. On the origins of language

1.1. The evolution of language (primate vocalization vs manual gestures)
1.2. Anatomical, ethological and neuroscientific evidence supporting the two hypotheses
1.3. Neuro-ethological evidence supporting the vocal/mixed origin of language

2. The Neuroscience of Language. Early studies

2.1. Paul Broca's investigations on aphasic patients
2.2. Early neurophysiological investigations on brain functions
2.3. The Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model of the neurobiology of language

3. The Neuroscience of Language. A contemporary view

3.1. The electrophysiology of language: EEG studies
3.2. The neuroimaging of language: fMRI studies
3.3. Invasive studies on language processing: intracranial recording and electrical stimulation
3.4. The neuroanatomy of language and the dual-streams model

4. The Cognitive functions of the Motor System

4.1. The organization of the motor system in the brain
4.2. The Mirror-Neuron System and the action-observation network

5. The Mirror-Neuron System and language processing

5.1. The Motor Theory of Speech Perception
5.2. The Semantic Somatotopy Hypothesis
5.3. Embodied cognition and L1-L2
5.4. The state of the art


Readings include the PPT slides presented during the course, along with research and review papers that will be provided by the teacher. Further suggested readings will be provided during the course.

Teaching methods

The course is mainly based on lectures. Additional methods include interaction with students during lectures, workshops, and online activities. All lessons and other teaching activities are held in English. Each lesson will make use of PPT slides and movies. All the slides will be provided to the students during the course.
To facilitate the learning process of all students, with particular reference to working students and students belonging to the weaker groups, the teaching material must include the video recording of the lessons or other equivalent audio-video material, prepared by the teacher and functional to improve the participation and inclusiveness of the training experience. This material, deposited on the platform with access reserved for students of the specific course, must be available for at least 15 days

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists of a written and an oral part.
Written part: the student will write a paper concerning one of the topics discussed during the course - within a list proposed by the teacher. The paper must be written according to the style required by the main specialist journals, simulating the submission of an article for publication. Students will be free to write the paper in English or Italian.
Oral part: it will be focused on the discussion of the written text, and on general topics discussed in the program

Other information

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