NEUR40020 Physiology of Synaptic Plasticity

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module forms part of the core curriculum for the BSc. Neuroscience degree. It covers advanced topics in synaptic plasticity in the CNS, including the molecular mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) in the hippocampus. The role of endocannabinoid signalling in the hippocampus and plasticity at voltage gated sodium channels will also be covered. A strong emphasis will be placed on the mechanisms of signal transduction in LTP, including the role of AMPA and NMDA receptors. Students will be expected to read recent publications in the field of plasticity for assessment and for final exam. It is strongly recommended that students have taken NEUR30080 or other modules with similar learning outcomes. An assessment (reading of a scientific paper) is carried out during the course of the module.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:
1. Critically evaluate recent research findings in synaptic plasticity including LTP and LTD.
2. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms of LTP.
3. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of endocannabinoid signaling in the hippocampus.
4. Discuss the application of modern research methods to studying problems in the field of synaptic plasticity.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, Tutorials, Scientific paper reading. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

An understanding of membrane biology such as BMOL30080 or equivalent learning is recommended

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Synaptic plasticity (BMOL40020)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Exam (In-person): 2 hr final exam, essay style, on all aspects of the course. n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Exam (Open Book): Students will be given a research paper at least 3 days before the exam. 4 to 7 questions will be asked about the paper at the 50 min exam session. Students can bring notes to the exam. n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Dr Olga Baron Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Caroline Herron Lecturer / Co-Lecturer