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Hormones and the Nervous System


Admission requirements

Completing the course “Introduction in the Neurosciences” is essential before enrolling in the course “Hormones & the Nervous System”.


Monday May 11th - Thursday July 2nd 2020.


This course is about neuroscience and endocrinology, interrelated fields that deal with communication between cells, organs, and organisms. The brain is a source and recipient of neural and endocrine signals. Neuronal and endocrine signaling molecules interact at many levels to produce integrated behavioral, cognitive, emotional, autonomic, and endocrine responses. Hormones and neurotransmitters regulate energy- and electrolyte homeostasis, reproduction, and dealing with stressors, in an interplay with genetic factors. Insight in endocrine and neuronal signaling is highly relevant for pharmacological targets in endocrine disease and psychopathology. ‘Textbook knowledge’ is acquired via instruction lectures, reading, and interactive classes. Daily ‘Special Topics’ brought by specialists in the field add focus on new developments.

Course objectives

The student:

  • Shows insight in different biological systems concerning neuroscience and endocrinology and interactions between these fields through communication/signalling between cells and organs, in particular insight in:
    -working mechanisms of different types of signaling molecules relevant in neuronal and hormonal systems;
    -function of key pituitary hormones: regulation, hormonal cascades, feedback mechanisms;
    -levels of complexity, and their integration: from molecule-cell-organ to an organism’s response (i.e. energy balance; stress; reproduction; growth; development)

  • Shows insight in the clinical and neurobiological characteristics of neurological (e.g. stroke, pain), endocrine (e.g. adrenal, thyroid, growth hormone, fertility) and psychiatric (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction) disorders and is able to evaluate pharmacological endocrine and/or neurological targets.

  • Shows insight in the concept of identity and how sense of identity can be manipulated by psychopharmacology

  • Shows the ability to apply big data analysis in the context of neuroendocrine biology/disorders, by independent use and implementation of gene expression information.

  • Is able to write a critical appraisal of recent biomedical literature, and shows the ability to retrieve and present relevant information in order to evaluate newly published data and the claims based on those data

  • Is able to evaluate pharmacological targets in endocrine disease and psychopathology; critically evaluates newly retrieved published data and the claims based on those data

  • Obtains communication skills that allow them to present coherently and convincingly while taking into account modern presentation principles

  • Is able to report the critical aspects of designing experimental and/or clinical research by participating in ongoing research of a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow

  • Gives insight in significance and perspectives of a self-conducted experiment

  • Engages in a debate on ethical issues related to potential applications of psychopharmacology

  • Participates adequately in scientific meetings by presenting and discussing a novel topic for a larger audience and evaluating and comparing different presented topics

  • Participates in an excursion to a pharmaceutical company in order to learn how science can be used to the benefit of company and society

  • Reflects on personal arguments for choosing a suitable career

Mode of instruction

  • Per subject: instruction lecture, self-study, interactive class, special topic (all plenary)

  • Practical Training (2 days);

  • Literature assignment including; presentation at symposium (integrated with line CIS);

  • Excursion to pharmaceutical company.

Assessment method

  • Day tests (open questions; open book) – 30%

  • Literature assignment – 10%

  • Final examination (open questions) – 60%

  • As day tests are not compulsory, their contribution to the final mark is proportional to the number of tests taken.

Exam dates

The exam dates can be found on the schedule website.

Reading list

  • H.P. Rang et al. Pharmacology, 9th edition.

  • M.F. Bear, Connors & Paradiso; Neuroscience, Exploring the Brain, 4th edition.

  • W.F Boron et al, Medical Physiology, 3rd edition.

  • B. Alberts et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th edition.