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UE Systems Neuroscience : from molecule to cognition

Responsables : Betrand Mollereau (PU ENS Lyon) et Jean-Claude Dreher (DR, CNRS)

6 ECTS, 36h de cours




Summury and Goals

This teaching unit (UE) will bridge the gap between the fields of cellular and system neurosciences. It will develop a transversal theme ‘reward dopaminergic system and decision making’ as an interface between cellular and system neurosciences. We will cover this theme ranging from the molecular, cellular, pharmacological, system neuroscience, computational neuroscience and clinical perpectives.  This will illustrate how reward dopaminergic function can be understood in neurosciences starting from molecular and cellular mechanisms to the system neuroscience level.


Topics (content may vary according to years)

Cellular Neurosciences

  • Normal function of dopaminergic reward system in learning and memory
  • Neuronal dysfunction leading to neurodegeneration
  • The role of metabolism in regulating neuronal circuitry
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegeneration
  • Current and futur therapies for neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuronal injury and regeneration
  • Gene therapy in neurodegenerative diseases

System Neurosciences

  • The prefrontal cortex and organization of behavior
  • Neurocomputational approaches for making perceptual decisions.
  • Introduction to drift diffusion models
  • Bayesian models of the brain
  • Value-based decision making in humans
  • Social neurosciences

Course organisation

Every day, speakers will present two aspects of the same subject, followed by discussions with the students.

These 2 lectures consist in:

  • An introduction lecture which summarize the current knowledge in the field;
  • A more specialized lecture on a specific field of research

Speakers will be introduced by students.


Objectives and skills

Cellular neurosciences

  • Introduces neuronal function and dysfunctions at the cellular and molecular levels to understand the process of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Learn about major neuronal cellular perturbation leading to neurodegeneration and future therapies.


System neurosciences

  • Introduces basic elements of anatomy, fMRI technique, experimental design in the fields of human Cognitive, Decision and Social Neuroscience, with a particular focus on reward, individual and social decision making. 
  • Illustrates how computational modeling can be used to identify the neural substrates of different cognitive processes using fMRI and electrophysiology.
  • Learn about the academic field of cognitive neuroscience, (neuroeconomics and social neuroscience), cellular neurosciences its current results and debates.
  •  Acquire some practical skills for designing and analyzing an experiment in the field of cognitive/decision and cellular neuroscience.


At the end of the course, students should:

  • Become critical readers of research findings by learning the methodological standards for evaluating the soundness of such studies.
  • Develop the ability to effectively write and speak about cognitive and cellular neuroscience results and debates.



This UE is at the end of the Neurosciences trajectory of the Licence and Master Biosciences. Students must have followed at least one of the following UE in L3 or M1 Biosciences: L3, UE la cellule neuronale au comportement and M1,  UE Cerveau, development et plasticité, UE Cellule Normale et pathologique.



  •  ½ day: presentation of research articles by students (40%)
  • Written Exam: last day, 2h (2 topics) (60%)