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Physiology

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Physiology ˌfɪziˈɒlədʒi is the science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 of the function of living systems. This includes how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

, and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. The highest honor awarded in physiology is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

, awarded since 1901 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

. Many U.S. universities offer physiology as a major.

Etymology


From - physis meaning "nature" or "origin" and -logia meaning the "study of".

Human physiology



Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems within systems. Much of the foundation of knowledge in human physiology was provided by animal experimentation. Physiology is closely related to anatomy; anatomy is the study of form, and physiology is the study of function. Due to the frequent connection between form and function, physiology and anatomy are intrinsically linked and are studied in tandem as part of a medical curriculum.

History


The study of human physiology dates back to at least 420 B.C. and the time of Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

, the father of medicine. Physiology was first recognized in the early 1960s. The critical thinking of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and his emphasis on the relationship between structure and function marked the beginning of physiology in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, while Claudius Galenus (c. 126-199 A.D.), known as Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, was the first to use experiments to probe the function of the body. Galen was the founder of experimental physiology. The medical world moved on from Galenism only with the appearance of Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

.

During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the ancient Greek and Indian medical traditions were further developed by Muslim physicians
Islamic medicine
In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine, Arabic medicine or Arabian medicine refers to medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islamic civilization....

. Notable work in this period was done by Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 (980-1037), author of the The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

, and Ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288), among others.

Following from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 brought an increase of physiological research in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 that triggered the modern study of anatomy and physiology. Andreas Vesalius was an author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy
Human anatomy
Human anatomy is primarily the scientific study of the morphology of the human body. Anatomy is subdivided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by the naked eye...

, De humani corporis fabrica
De humani corporis fabrica
De humani corporis fabrica libri septem is a textbook of human anatomy written by Andreas Vesalius in 1543....

. Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy. Anatomist William Harvey
William Harvey
William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

 described the circulatory system
Circulatory system
The circulatory system is an organ system that passes nutrients , gases, hormones, blood cells, etc...

 in the 17th century, demonstrating the fruitful combination of close observations and careful experiments to learn about the functions of the body, which was fundamental to the development of experimental physiology. Herman Boerhaave
Herman Boerhaave
Herman Boerhaave was a Dutch botanist, humanist and physician of European fame. He is regarded as the founder of clinical teaching and of the modern academic hospital. His main achievement was to demonstrate the relation of symptoms to lesions...

 is sometimes referred to as a father of physiology due to his exemplary teaching in Leiden and textbook Institutiones medicae (1708).

In the 18th century, important works in this field were by Pierre Cabanis, a French doctor and physiologist.

In the 19th century, physiological knowledge began to accumulate at a rapid rate, in particular with the 1838 appearance of the Cell theory
Cell theory
Cell theory refers to the idea that cells are the basic unit of structure in every living thing. Development of this theory during the mid 17th century was made possible by advances in microscopy. This theory is one of the foundations of biology...

 of Matthias Schleiden
Matthias Jakob Schleiden
Matthias Jakob Schleiden was a German botanist and co-founder of the cell theory, along with Theodor Schwann and Rudolf Virchow....

 and Theodor Schwann
Theodor Schwann
Theodor Schwann was a German physiologist. His many contributions to biology include the development of cell theory, the discovery of Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system, the discovery and study of pepsin, the discovery of the organic nature of yeast, and the invention of the term...

. It radically stated that organisms are made up of units called cells. Claude Bernard
Claude Bernard
Claude Bernard was a French physiologist. He was the first to define the term milieu intérieur . Historian of science I. Bernard Cohen of Harvard University called Bernard "one of the greatest of all men of science"...

's (1813–1878) further discoveries ultimately led to his concept of milieu interieur
Milieu interieur
Milieu intérieur or interior milieu, from the French, milieu intérieur, is a term coined by Claude Bernard to refer to the extra-cellular fluid environment, and its physiological capacity to ensure protective stability for the tissues and organs of multicellular living organisms.-Origin:Claude...

(internal environment), which would later be taken up and championed as "homeostasis
Homeostasis
Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties like temperature or pH...

" by American physiologist Walter Cannon (1871–1945).

In the 20th century, biologists also became interested in how organisms other than human beings function, eventually spawning the fields of comparative physiology
Comparative physiology
Comparative physiology is a subdiscipline of physiology that studies and exploits the diversity of functional characteristics of various kinds of organisms. It is closely related to evolutionary physiology and environmental physiology. Many universities offer undergraduate courses that cover...

 and ecophysiology
Ecophysiology
Ecophysiology or environmental physiology is a biological discipline which studies the adaptation of organism's physiology to environmental conditions...

. Major figures in these fields include Knut Schmidt-Nielsen
Knut Schmidt-Nielsen
Knut Schmidt-Nielsen was a prominent figure in the field of comparative physiology and Professor of Physiology Emeritus at Duke University.-Background:...

 and George Bartholomew
George Bartholomew
George Bartholomew was an American inventor who is credited with the invention of concrete pavement. In 1886, Bartholomew moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio, after having learned about cement production. Bartholomew found a good source of limestone and clay in the area; from this, he hoped to create an...

. Most recently, evolutionary physiology
Evolutionary physiology
Evolutionary physiology is the study of physiological evolution, which is to say, the manner in which the functional characteristics of individuals in a population of organisms have responded to selection across multiple generations during the history of the population.It is a subdiscipline of both...

 has become a distinct subdiscipline.

The biological basis of the study of physiology, integration refers to the overlap of many functions of the systems of the human body, as well as its accompanied form. It is achieved through communication that occurs in a variety of ways, both electrical and chemical.

In terms of the human body, the endocrine and nervous systems play major roles in the reception and transmission of signals that integrate function. Homeostasis is a major aspect with regard to the interactions within an organism, humans included.

See also


  • Anatomy
    Anatomy
    Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

  • Comparative physiology
    Comparative physiology
    Comparative physiology is a subdiscipline of physiology that studies and exploits the diversity of functional characteristics of various kinds of organisms. It is closely related to evolutionary physiology and environmental physiology. Many universities offer undergraduate courses that cover...

  • Defense physiology
    Defense Physiology
    Defense physiology is a term used to refer to the symphony of body function changes which occur in response to a stress or threat....

  • Ecophysiology
    Ecophysiology
    Ecophysiology or environmental physiology is a biological discipline which studies the adaptation of organism's physiology to environmental conditions...

  • Evolutionary physiology
    Evolutionary physiology
    Evolutionary physiology is the study of physiological evolution, which is to say, the manner in which the functional characteristics of individuals in a population of organisms have responded to selection across multiple generations during the history of the population.It is a subdiscipline of both...

  • Human physiology
    Human physiology
    Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. Physiology focuses principally at the level of organs and systems...

  • Physiome
    Physiome
    The physiome of an individual's or species'physiological state is the description of itsfunctional behavior. The physiome describes the physiological dynamics ofthe normal intact organism and is built upon information and...

  • Somatopsychic
    Somatopsychic
    Somatopsychic is a medical term for the effects of the body on the mind. Somatopsychic is used to describe a body-mind relationship, as does psychosomatic. Psychosomatic, however, refers to the mind's effect on the body.-External links:**...

  • Applied physiology
    Applied Physiology
    Applied Physiology is the study of biological systems and steps into practice. It involves the application of the knowledge of physiological properties to restore stability. It differs from clinical practice.-External links:* * * *...

  • Exercise physiology
    Exercise physiology
    Exercise physiology is the study of the acute responses and chronic adaptations to a wide-range of physical exercise conditions. In addition, many exercise physiologists study the effect of exercise on pathology, and the mechanisms by which exercise can reduce or reverse disease progression...


External links