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MMB8019 : Sensory Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Yuki Kikuchi
  • Lecturer: Professor Evelyne Sernagor, Dr Gabriele Jordan, Professor Stuart Baker, Professor Anya Hurlbert, Professor Alexander Thiele, Professor Patrick Degenaar, Professor Andrew Blamire, Professor Tim Griffiths, Dr Srikanth Ramaswamy, Professor Adrian Rees
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module aims are:

1. introduce the principles and practice of modern methods (primarily neurophysiology, imaging, and computational approaches) for investigating sensory systems (vision, audition and somatosensation).

2. explore sensory physiology at an advanced level from single neuron function to complex neuronal networks in the visual, auditory and somatosensory systems.

3. gain an understanding of how basic experimental studies and clinical investigations reveal the neuronal mechanisms underlying function of sensory systems in health and disease.

4. acquire basic knowledge in neural implant devices to regain lost senses.

5. gain specific knowledge on:

• neuronal signalling mechanisms
• cellular neurophysiology
• invasive and non-invasive techniques for studying the nervous system in humans and experimental animals
• gross sensory neuroanatomy (in primates and simpler animals)
• development of neural function and structure
• genetics and neuroanatomy of specific sensory disorders and their relationship to normal brain function
• multisensory neuromodulation and integration
• functional links between sensory systems, and disorders thereof
• higher brain functions that build on sensory function, such as visual memory and attention, reading, music perception.

6. learn how to acquire scientific knowledge through independent reading, deductive and inductive reasoning.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will introduce the principles and practice of modern methods (primarily neurophysiological, neuroimaging, and computational approaches) for investigating sensory systems including the visual, auditory and somatosensory systems, chemical senses through a series of sessions;

Topics will include:

1. Essential neuroanatomy

2. Essential cellular neurophysiology

3. Neuroimaging techniques

4. Retinal structure and function

5. Visual system development

6. Colour vision (retinal processing, genetic disorders, central processing)

7. Visual cortical function (modularity, cognitive aspects, visual attention)

8. Sensory prosthetics

9. Somatosensation (touch, pressure, vibration, pain, temperature, position and movement)

10. The auditory pathway and neural oscillations

11. Auditory neurophysiology and neuropharmacology

12. Cortical basis and disorders of human auditory cognition

13. Neuromodulation across sensory modalities

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Present in person (PIP) lecture sessions
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Formative MCQ, take home online assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Present-in-person: Oral presentation (Groups of 8 students per 2 hour session)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Preparation of oral presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00Present in person (PIP): Anatomy labs
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Present in person (PIP): Computer Cluster
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Present in person (PIP): Computer cluster
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity119:0019:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study198:0098:00Preparation of Notes; preparing answer to take home paper
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study18:008:00Additional Reading & Reflective learning
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Theoretical content will be provided by lectures and provide a framework on which to construct further guided independent learning. Lectures are presented in logical order, helping to build up deeper knowledge of various subjects.

Various activities will provide opportunities to develop other skills. These include a journal club to develop critical appraisal, preparing and delivering an oral presentation (which is one of the assessment) to help develop presentation skills and oral communication and a workshop (on spike train analysis) to develop analytical skills. A practical on fundamental neuroanatomy will introduce students to
gross anatomy of the human brain, cellular staining techniques and comparative neuroanatomy.

Students will undertake independent study which will involve additional reading and reflection. Assessment preparation and the formative MCQ will consolidate knowledge

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, in person sessions will be moved to online alternatives.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M30In person Oral presentation - 12 minutes
Essay1M70Take Home Essay, choice of 1 from 9 options (same number of students for each essay) 2500 words, 7 days to complete
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MOnline MCQ (2 hours) (approximately 3 questions per lecture session)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will test students' detailed knowledge and critical understanding of a selected area of sensory neuroscience.

The oral presentation will help the students to develop their oral skills for presenting current topics in sensory neuroscience

The formative in-course MCQ test will help develop the students' knowledge across the breadth of the course, based on the content of all lectures.

Reading Lists