Elementos de Biofísica - F+B

Ano letivo: 2011-2012
Specification sheet

Specific details
course codecycle os studiesacademic semestercredits ECTSteaching language

Learning goals

The objective of this curricular unit is to teach the fundamentals of bioelectricity, especially the electrical properties of nervous cells on the formation, propagation and transmission of the nervous impulse and other excitable cells namely sensory and muscle cells.

In addition this curricular unit is also intended to provide students with an overview of the current state of knowledge concerning the main approached subjects and their physical correspondents. Other aim is that students develop their ability to do research and communicate orally and in writing.


1. Introduction to bioelectrical phenomena.

2. Structure and functions of the nervous cell.

3. Diffusion and transportation across membranes.

4. Resting potential of the membrane.

5. Electrical properties of the excitable membrane.

6. Functional properties of dendrites.

7. Action potential and Hodkin-Huxley model.

8. Gating chains and mechanisms.

9. Different ion channels which are dependent on the potential.

10. Molecule structure and individual channel chains.

11. Synaptic transmission: pre-and postsynaptic mechanisms.

12. Synaptic plasticity.


This curricular unit is aimed at students who have appropriate knowledge of Mathematics and Physics and basic notions of Chemistry and Biology. In order to attend this curricular unit, students should have knowledge regarding the following curricular units or similar curricular units: Mathematical Analysis I, General Chemistry I and General Physics II.

Generic skills to reach
. Competence in analysis and synthesis;
. Competence in organization and planning;
. Competence in oral and written communication;
. Competence to solve problems;
. Critical thinking;
. Knowledge of a foreign language;
. Computer Skills for the scope of the study;
. Using the internet as a communication medium and information source;
. Competence in autonomous learning;
. Research skills;
(by decreasing order of importance)
Teaching hours per semester
theory-practical classes30
total of teaching hours75

Synthesis work thesis10 %
Exam80 %
Other10 %
assessment implementation in 20112012
Oral presentation of the summary assignment : 10.0%
Synthesis work: 10.0%
Exam: 80.0%

Bibliography of reference

JOHNSTON, Daniel; WU, Samuel M.-S. -  Foundations of Cellular Neurophysiology
       Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 1995, 676 p. ISBN 0-262-10053-3

 HILLE, Bertil - Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes
     3ª ed. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Massachusetts, 2001, 841 p. ISBN 0-87893-321-2

FAIN, Gordon L. - Molecular and Cellular Physiology of Neurons
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1999, 693 p. ISBN0-674-58155-5

   HOPPE, Walter; LOHMANN, Wolfgang; MARKL, Hubert, ZIEGLER, Hubert, Eds.
-    Biophysics. Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 1983, 941 p. ISBN 3-540-12083-1

Teaching method

Theoretical classes mainly using audio-visual media and tutorial classes will be delivered. In these classes the themes of the summary assignments and their specific characteristics will be established. In addition, methods of study and methods for the presentation of the assignments will be discussed including the acquisition and reading of the bibliography and the computer tools to be used.

Resources used