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Physiology vs. Anatomy
While human anatomy is the study of the body’s structures, physiology is the study of how those structures work. An imaging scan like an X-ray or ultrasound can show your anatomy, but doctors use other tests — like urine and blood tests or electrocardiograms (EKGs) — to reveal details about your body’s physiology.
What Physiology Tells Us About the Body
Doctors use physiology to learn more about many different organ systems, including:
- The cardiovascular system — your heart and blood vessels
- The digestive system — the stomach, intestines, and other organs that digest food
- The endocrine system — glands that make hormones, the chemicals that control many body functions
- The immune system — your body’s defense against germs and disease
- The muscular system — the muscles you use to move your body
- The nervous system — your brain, spinal cord, and nerves
- The renal system — your kidneys and other organs that control the fluid in your body
- The reproductive system — sex organs for men and women
- The respiratory system — your lungs and airways
- The skeletal system — bones, joints, cartilage, and connective tissue
Physiology revolves around understanding how the human body maintains a steady state while adapting to outside conditions, a process called homeostasis. How do your organ systems keep your temperature relatively stable in different environments? How does your body keep your blood sugar and other chemical levels constant even when you eat different foods? These are the kinds of questions that physiologists aim to answer.
Physiology in Medicine
By shedding light on normal body functions, physiology can teach lessons about what goes wrong in disease. For instance, physiologists have figured out how different types of cells in the pancreas release hormones to control blood sugar levels. That helps doctors understand and treat diabetes.
The field also offers insights into how to make the human body work more efficiently. It’s often part of sports medicine, where knowing how the body adapts to physical challenges helps elite athletes improve their performance, avoid injury, and recover faster.
The History of Physiology
Anatomy is visible, and ancient doctors and scientists studied it through dissections, surgeries, and observation. But how the body actually works is harder to explore. This means that physiology is a more modern science.
Early explanations of how organs or functions of the human body might work were often guesses, based on processes that were familiar to scientists. For example, some thought the formation of an embryo was similar to how milk turns into cheese. Other early scientists compared blood flow throughout the body to weather patterns.
In the 17th century, microscopes helped shed new light on the cells that make up the human body, leading to a new understanding of physiology. More recently, tools like gene sequencing technologies and new types of body scans have given physiologists an expanded vision of the human body.
Organizations of living systems
- At the chemical level, atoms, molecules (combinations of atoms), and the chemical bonds between atoms provide the framework upon which all living activity is based.
- The cell is the smallest unit of life. Organelles within the cell are specialized bodies performing specific cellular functions. Cells themselves may be specialized. Thus, there are nerve cells, bone cells, and muscle cells.
- A tissue is a group of similar cells performing a common function. Muscle tissue, for example, consists of muscle cells.
- An organ is a group of different kinds of tissues working together to perform a particular activity. The heart is an organ composed of muscle, nervous, connective, and epithelial tissues.
- An organ system is two or more organs working together to accomplish a particular task. The digestive system, for example, involves the coordinated activities of many organs, including the mouth, stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, and liver.
- An organism is a system possessing the characteristics of living things—the ability to obtain and process energy, the ability to respond to environmental changes, and the ability to reproduce.
A characteristic of all living systems is homeostasis, or the maintenance of stable, internal conditions within specific limits. In many cases, stable conditions are maintained by negative feedback.In negative feedback, a sensing mechanism (a receptor) detects a change in conditions beyond specific limits. A control center, or integrator (often the brain), evaluates the change and activates a second mechanism (an effector) to correct the condition; for example, cells that either remove or add glucose to the blood in an effort to maintain homeostasis are effectors. Conditions are constantly monitored by receptors and evaluated by the control center. When the control center determines that conditions have returned to normal, corrective action is discontinued. Thus, in negative feedback, the variant condition is canceled, or negated, so that conditions are returned to normal.The regulation of glucose concentration in the blood illustrates how homeostasis is maintained by negative feedback. After a meal, the absorption of glucose (a sugar) from the digestive tract increases the amount of glucose in the blood. In response, specialized cells in the pancreas (alpha cells) secrete the hormone insulin, which circulates through the blood and stimulates liver and muscle cells to absorb the glucose. Once blood glucose levels return to normal, insulin secretion stops.
human body, the physical substance of the human organism, composed of living cells and extracellular materials and organized into tissues, organs, and systems.What is endocrinology?
Human anatomy and physiology are treated in many different articles. For detailed discussions of specific tissues, organs, and systems, see human blood; cardiovascular system; digestive system, human; endocrine system, human; renal system; skin; human muscle system; nervous system; reproductive system, human; respiration, human; sensory reception, human; skeletal system, human. For a description of how the body develops, from conception through old age, see aging; growth; prenatal development; human development.
The study of cells or cell biology is called cytology. It is derived from the Greek word “kytos”, meaning vessel.
The cell is called as a fundamental unit of life because every single living species is composed of a cell.
The cell is a Latin word which refers to a small room. It was first discovered in the year 1665 by the English philosopher and architect named Robert Hooke. Later in the year 1839, two German Scientists, Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann proposed the cell theory.
Cytology or cell biology is about the cell, cell division and its functions. Every living species are composed of a cell. A human body comprises around billion to trillion cells, which are mainly involved in different specialized functions. Their shape and size usually vary, and a single, minute cell alone can perform several functions to keep an organism healthy and alive.
Cytology the sub-discipline of biology, mainly deals with the study of the cell, cell theory, different types of cell- unicellular, multicellular, cell organelles along with their functions, prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and different kinds of cellular process.