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Experimental Models in Neuroscience

Code: MeN_07     Acronym: MEN

Classification Keyword
OFICIAL Neurosciences

Instance: 2021/2022 - 2S (of 07-02-2022 to 15-07-2022) Ícone do Moodle

Active? Yes
Responsible unit: Departamento de Biomedicina
Course/CS Responsible: Neurobiology

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
MNB 11 Plano Oficial do ano letivo 2015 1 - 6 53,5 162

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Fani Lourença Moreira Neto

Teaching language

Suitable for English-speaking students


The unit provides theoretical-practical knowledge on various experimental models currently used in Neuroscience.

Learning outcomes and competences

The student will have a laboratory hands on learning process of the methodologies available for producing experimental models, their fundaments, applications, practical requirements, advantages, limitations, and the type of answers they can provide. The student will be confronted with questioning the adequacy of the models to the objective of the study and their correct validation at the molecular, biochemical and behavioral levels. The student will be able to plan the best approach to scientific questions in different neuroscience fields by using the most appropriate experimental model. These competencies will help the student with the design and execution of the master thesis’s research project and will allow him to understand the work performed by others, leading him to seek collaborations outside their walls as a way of getting complementary data.

Working method



The curricular unit is organized in four modules that complement each other allowing students have contact with the theoretical and practical fundaments concerning the production of different types of in vivo (surgical, metabolic, inflammatory), in vitro (cell culture), mutants and transgenic experimental models useful in the investigation of the various areas of neuroscience. Their advantages and disadvantages will be discussed, as well as the principles that should govern the choice of the most appropriate model for the objectives of each study and the adequate biochemical, molecular and behavioral validation of the experimental model.

Module 1 – Disease models in wild-type animals (production and validation) 
– Fani Neto (coordinator): Principles for production and validation of animal models; Models of degenerative diseases, Models of somatic chronic pain, Models of visceral inflammation and pain, Models of nervous system injury, Animal models of addition, Zebra fish models in neuroscience research, The use of Drophosila in neuroscience research, Models of metabolic diseases, Validation of animal models.

Module 2 – Genetic Manipulation in Mice: Mutation and Transgenesis – Miguel Soares (coordinator): Mouse development; harvest, culture and manipulation of preimplantation-stage embryos; Production of transgenic and chimeric mice; Strategies for embryonic stem cell-based transgenesis; genome alterations and introduction of foreign DNA into ES cells; Detection and analysis of mouse genome.

Module 3 – In vitro models  – Ana Charrua (coordinator): Introduction to neuronal cell cultures, Introductory training for Cell Culture Basics, Primary cell culture, Neuronal cell lines, Organotypic cultures, Ex-vivo culture of rodent hippocampus

Module 4 – Behavioural analysis – Joana Ferreira Gomes & Clara Monteiro (coordinator): Ethological analysis of behavior, Rodent behavior - Psychophysical assessment, Rodent behavior - Cognitive assessment, Planning experiments of behavior in neuroscience, Practical analysis of behavior.

Mandatory literature

Chris M. Nichols, Terence M. Myckatyn, Susan R.; Choosing the correct functional assay: A comprehensive assessment of functional tests in the rat. Behavioural Brain Research 163 (2005) 143–158
Edited by Erwan Bezard, Antonio Pisani and Oliver Berton.; Neuroscience Disease Models. Neuroscience Volume 211, Pages 1-184 (1 June 2012).
R. Ian Freshney, Wiley-Liss; Culture of animal cells a manual of basic technique.
L. W. Haynes (editor); The Neuron in Tissue Culture. IBRO Handbook series: methods in Neuroscience volume 18., John Wiley & Sons

Complementary Bibliography

Chris M. Nichols, Terence M. Myckatyn, Susan R. Rickman, Ida K. Fox, Tessa Hadlock, Susan E. Mackinnon; Choosing the correct functional assay: A comprehensive assessment of functional tests in the rat. Behavioural Brain Research 163 (2005) 143–158
Puccio H.; Multicellular models of Friedreich ataxia. J Neurol (2009) 256 [Suppl 1]:18–24
Flinn L1, Bretaud S, Lo C, Ingham PW, Bandmann O.; Zebrafish as a new animal model for movement disorders. J. Neurochem. (2008) 106, 1991–1997.
Augusto Vitale, Arianna Manciocco, Enrico Alleva; The 3R principle and the use of non-human primates in the study of neurodegenerative diseases: The case of Parkinson's disease. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 33 (2009) 33–47
Bingwei Lu and Hannes Vogel; Drosophila Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases - Annual Reviews. Annu. Rev. Pathol. Mech. Dis. 2009. 4:315–42

Teaching methods and learning activities

The curricular unit is based on practical, hands on learning in the laboratory environment, in small size groups. This is previously grounded by a small number of theoretical and theoretical-practical sessions where the students are taught the basic theoretical/theoretical-practical principles for the understanding and implementation of the different methodologies of production, use and validation of experimental models in neuroscience. The small size of the groups is guaranteed whenever necessary (dependent on the number of students) by multiplying the number of practical sessions. The students have prior access to recommended bibliography and are instructed to approach professors when necessary.

Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation without final exam

Assessment Components

Designation Weight (%)
Apresentação/discussão de um trabalho científico 30,00
Participação presencial 15,00
Prova oral 5,00
Trabalho escrito 50,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

Designation Time (hours)
Apresentação/discussão de um trabalho científico 10,00
Estudo autónomo 100,00
Frequência das aulas 40,00
Trabalho escrito 12,00
Total: 162,00

Eligibility for exams

Frequency in the four modules with minimal approval in each;

Calculation formula of final grade

The final grade is the average of the marks obtained in each module.


The evaluation in each module will take into account the student’s critical abilities and previous preparation for each session, and his performance at the practical sessions and will be as follows:
Module 1: individual written work about an in vivo disease model in neuroscience with a critical view of the pros and cons;
Module 2: Selection and oral presentation of a research paper using of a genetically manipulated mouse model and critical evaluation of the adequacy of the model to the scientific questions;
Module 3: Individual written work adapted to the module's theme;
Module 4: Presentation and discussion of articles by students.

Classification improvement

It is possible to improve the classification obtained in the curricular unit, during the extra exams season, by doing a global exam which includes all the content lectured in each of the individual modules that constitute the curricular unit. It is also allowed to improve the classification by attending again each module separatelly in a new year ("Melhoria por Frequência").
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