Physiology ( // ; from Ancient Greek φύσις (physis) 'nature, origin',and-λογία (-logia) 'study of' ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology, physiology focuses on how organisms, organ systems, individual organs, cells, and biomolecules carry out the chemical and physical functions in a living system. According to the classes of organisms, the field can be divided into medical physiology, animal physiology, plant physiology, cell physiology, and comparative physiology.
Central to physiological functioning are biophysical and biochemical processes, homeostatic control mechanisms, and communication between cells.Physiological state is the condition of normal function, while pathological state refers to abnormal conditions, including human diseases.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for exceptional scientific achievements in physiology related to the field of medicine.
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Human physiology seeks to understand the mechanisms that work to keep the human body alive and functioning,through scientific enquiry into the nature of mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans, 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. The endocrine and nervous systems play major roles in the reception and transmission of signals that integrate function in animals. Homeostasis is a major aspect with regard to such interactions within plants as well as animals. 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.
Changes in physiology can impact the mental functions of individuals. Examples of this would be the effects of certain medications or toxic levels of substances.Change in behavior as a result of these substances is often used to assess the health of individuals.
Much of the foundation of knowledge in human physiology was provided by animal experimentation. 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.
Plant physiology is a subdiscipline of botany concerned with the functioning of plants. Closely related fields include plant morphology, plant ecology, phytochemistry, cell biology, genetics, biophysics, and molecular biology. Fundamental processes of plant physiology include photosynthesis, respiration, plant nutrition, tropisms, nastic movements, photoperiodism, photomorphogenesis, circadian rhythms, seed germination, dormancy, and stomata function and transpiration. Absorption of water by roots, production of food in the leaves, and growth of shoots towards light are examples of plant physiology.
Although there are differences between animal, plant, and microbial cells, the basic physiological functions of cells can be divided into the processes of cell division, cell signaling, cell growth, and cell metabolism.
Involving evolutionary physiology and environmental physiology, comparative physiology considers the diversity of functional characteristics across organisms.
The study of human physiology as a medical field originates in classical Greece, at the time of Hippocrates (late 5th century BC). AD), known as Galen of Pergamum, was the first to use experiments to probe the functions of the body. Unlike Hippocrates, Galen argued that humoral imbalances can be located in specific organs, including the entire body. His modification of this theory better equipped doctors to make more precise diagnoses. Galen also played off of Hippocrates idea that emotions were also tied to the humours, and added the notion of temperaments: sanguine corresponds with blood; phlegmatic is tied to phlegm; yellow bile is connected to choleric; and black bile corresponds with melancholy. Galen also saw the human body consisting of three connected systems: the brain and nerves, which are responsible for thoughts and sensations; the heart and arteries, which give life; and the liver and veins, which can be attributed to nutrition and growth. Galen was also the founder of experimental physiology. And for the next 1,400 years, Galenic physiology was a powerful and influential tool in medicine.Outside of Western tradition, early forms of physiology or anatomy can be reconstructed as having been present at around the same time in China, India and elsewhere. Hippocrates incorporated his belief system called the theory of humours, which consisted of four basic substance: earth, water, air and fire. Each substance is known for having a corresponding humour: black bile, phlegm, blood and yellow bile, respectively. Hippocrates also noted some emotional connections to the four humours, which Claudius Galenus would later expand on. The critical thinking of Aristotle and his emphasis on the relationship between structure and function marked the beginning of physiology in Ancient Greece. Like Hippocrates, Aristotle took to the humoral theory of disease, which also consisted of four primary qualities in life: hot, cold, wet and dry. Claudius Galenus (c. 130–200
Jean Fernel (1497–1558), a French physician, introduced the term "physiology".Galen, Ibn al-Nafis, Michael Servetus, Realdo Colombo, Amato Lusitano and William Harvey, are credited as making important discoveries in the circulation of the blood. Santorio Santorio in 1610s was the first to use a device to measure the pulse rate (the pulsilogium), and a thermoscope to measure temperature.
In 1791 Luigi Galvani described the role of electricity in nerves of dissected frogs. In 1811, César Julien Jean Legallois studied respiration in animal dissection and lesions and found the center of respiration in the medulla oblongata. In the same year, Charles Bell finished work on what would later become known as the Bell-Magendie law, which compared functional differences between dorsal and ventral roots of the spinal cord. In 1824, François Magendie described the sensory roots and produced the first evidence of the cerebellum's role in equilibration to complete the Bell-Magendie law.
In the 1820s, the French physiologist Henri Milne-Edwards introduced the notion of physiological division of labor, which allowed to "compare and study living things as if they were machines created by the industry of man." Inspired in the work of Adam Smith, Milne-Edwards wrote that the "body of all living beings, whether animal or plant, resembles a factory ... where the organs, comparable to workers, work incessantly to produce the phenomena that constitute the life of the individual." In more differentiated organisms, the functional labor could be apportioned between different instruments or systems (called by him as appareils).
In 1858, Joseph Lister studied the cause of blood coagulation and inflammation that resulted after previous injuries and surgical wounds. He later discovered and implemented antiseptics in the operating room, and as a result, decreased death rate from surgery by a substantial amount.
The Physiological Society was founded in London in 1876 as a dining club.The American Physiological Society (APS) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1887. The Society is, "devoted to fostering education, scientific research, and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences."
In 1891, Ivan Pavlov performed research on "conditional responses" that involved dogs' saliva production in response to a bell and visual stimuli.
In the 19th century, physiological knowledge began to accumulate at a rapid rate, in particular with the 1838 appearance of the Cell theory of Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann.It radically stated that organisms are made up of units called cells. Claude Bernard's (1813–1878) further discoveries ultimately led to his concept of milieu interieur (internal environment), which would later be taken up and championed as "homeostasis" by American physiologist Walter B. Cannon in 1929. By homeostasis, Cannon meant "the maintenance of steady states in the body and the physiological processes through which they are regulated." In other words, the body's ability to regulate its internal environment. William Beaumont was the first American to utilize the practical application of physiology.
Nineteenth-century physiologists such as Michael Foster, Max Verworn, and Alfred Binet, based on Haeckel's ideas, elaborated what came to be called "general physiology", a unified science of life based on the cell actions,later renamed in the 20th century as cell biology.
In the 20th century, biologists became interested in how organisms other than human beings function, eventually spawning the fields of comparative physiology and ecophysiology.Major figures in these fields include Knut Schmidt-Nielsen and George Bartholomew. Most recently, evolutionary physiology has become a distinct subdiscipline.
In 1920, August Krogh won the Nobel Prize for discovering how, in capillaries, blood flow is regulated.
In 1954, Andrew Huxley and Hugh Huxley, alongside their research team, discovered the sliding filaments in skeletal muscle, known today as the sliding filament theory.
Recently, there have been intense debates about the vitality of physiology as a discipline (Is it dead or alive?).If physiology is perhaps less visible nowadays than during the golden age of the 19th century, it is in large part because the field has given birth to some of the most active domains of today's biological sciences, such as neuroscience, endocrinology, and immunology. Furthermore, physiology is still often seen as an integrative discipline, which can put together into a coherent framework data coming from various different domains.
Initially, women were largely excluded from official involvement in any physiological society. The American Physiological Society, for example, was founded in 1887 and included only men in its ranks.In 1902, the American Physiological Society elected Ida Hyde as the first female member of the society. Hyde, a representative of the American Association of University Women and a global advocate for gender equality in education, attempted to promote gender equality in every aspect of science and medicine.
Soon thereafter, in 1913, J.S. Haldane proposed that women be allowed to formally join The Physiological Society, which had been founded in 1876. 978-0-9933410-0-7)On 3 July 1915, six women were officially admitted: Florence Buchanan, Winifred Cullis, Ruth C. Skelton, Sarah C. M. Sowton, Constance Leetham Terry, and Enid M. Tribe. The centenary of the election of women was celebrated in 2015 with the publication of the book "Women Physiologists: Centenary Celebrations And Beyond For The Physiological Society." ( ISBN
Prominent women physiologists include:
There are many ways to categorize the subdisciplines of physiology:
Transnational physiological societies include:
National physiological societies include:
Anatomy is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structural organization of living things. It is an old science, having its beginnings in prehistoric times. Anatomy is inherently tied to developmental biology, embryology, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, and phylogeny, as these are the processes by which anatomy is generated, both over immediate and long-term timescales. Anatomy and physiology, which study the structure and function of organisms and their parts respectively, make a natural pair of related disciplines, and are often studied together. Human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine.
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus, often Anglicized as Galen and sometimes known as Galen of Pergamon, was a physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire. He is considered one of the most accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, Galen influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic.
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. It is a multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, developmental biology, cytology, mathematical modeling, and psychology to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of neurons and neural circuits. The understanding of the biological basis of learning, memory, behavior, perception, and consciousness has been described by Eric Kandel as the "ultimate challenge" of the biological sciences.
Zoology is the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems. The term is derived from Ancient Greek ζῷον, zōion, i.e. "animal" and λόγος, logos, i.e. "knowledge, study".
An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism. In general, in organisms that reproduce sexually, embryonic development is the part of the life cycle that begins just after fertilization and continues through the formation of body structures, such as tissues and organs. Each embryo starts development as a zygote, a single cell resulting from the fusion of gametes. In the first stages of embryonic development, a single-celled zygote undergoes many rapid cell divisions, called cleavage, to form a blastula, which looks similar to a ball of cells. Next, the cells in a blastula-stage embryo start rearranging themselves into layers in a process called gastrulation. These layers will each give rise to different parts of the developing multicellular organism, such as the nervous system, connective tissue, and organs.
The human body is the structure of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ systems. They ensure homeostasis and the viability of the human body.
Biomechanics is the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems, at any level from whole organisms to organs, cells and cell organelles, using the methods of mechanics. Biomechanics is a branch of biophysics.
An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that coexist in organ systems.
The history of zoology before Charles Darwin's 1859 theory of evolution traces the organized study of the animal kingdom from ancient to modern times. Although the concept of zoology as a single coherent field arose much later, systematic study of zoology is seen in the works of Aristotle and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world. This work was developed in the Middle Ages by Islamic medicine and scholarship, and in turn their work was extended by European scholars such as Albertus Magnus.
Bernardo Alberto Houssay was an Argentine physiologist who, in 1947, was a co-recipient of a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the role played by pituitary hormones in regulating the amount of blood sugar (glucose) in animals. He was the first Argentine Nobel laureate in the sciences. He shared the prize with Carl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Cori, who won for their discoveries regarding the role of glucose in carbohydrate metabolism).
George Emil Palade ForMemRS HonFRMS was a Romanian-American cell biologist. Described as "the most influential cell biologist ever", in 1974 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine along with Albert Claude and Christian de Duve. The prize was granted for his innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation which together laid the foundations of modern molecular cell biology, the most notable discovery being the ribosomes of the endoplasmic reticulum – which he first described in 1955.
Neurophysiology is a branch of physiology and neuroscience that is concerned with the study of the functioning of the nervous system. The primary tools of basic neurophysiological research include electrophysiological recordings, such as patch clamp, voltage clamp, extracellular single-unit recording and recording of local field potentials, as well as some of the methods of calcium imaging, optogenetics, and molecular biology.
A biologist is a professional who has specialized knowledge in the field of biology, understanding the underlying mechanisms that govern the functioning of biological systems within fields such as health, technology and the environment. Biologists involved in fundamental research attempt to explore and further explain the underlying mechanisms that govern the functioning of living matter. Biologists involved in applied research attempt to develop or improve more specific processes and understanding, in fields such as medicine and industry.
A biological system is a complex network of biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales and are determined based different structures depending on what the system is. Examples of biological systems at the macro scale are populations of organisms. On the organ and tissue scale in mammals and other animals, examples include the circulatory system, the respiratory system, and the nervous system. On the micro to the nanoscopic scale, examples of biological systems are cells, organelles, macromolecular complexes and regulatory pathways. A biological system is not to be confused with a living system, such as a living organism.
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, certain unifying concepts consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.
The history of biochemistry can be said to have started with the ancient Greeks who were interested in the composition and processes of life, although biochemistry as a specific scientific discipline has its beginning around the early 19th century. Some argued that the beginning of biochemistry may have been the discovery of the first enzyme, diastase, in 1833 by Anselme Payen, while others considered Eduard Buchner's first demonstration of a complex biochemical process alcoholic fermentation in cell-free extracts to be the birth of biochemistry. Some might also point to the influential work of Justus von Liebig from 1842, Animal chemistry, or, Organic chemistry in its applications to physiology and pathology, which presented a chemical theory of metabolism, or even earlier to the 18th century studies on fermentation and respiration by Antoine Lavoisier.
Iatrophysics or iatromechanics is the medical application of physics. It provides an explanation for medical practices with mechanical principles. It was a school of medicine in the seventeenth century which attempted to explain physiological phenomena in mechanical terms. Believers of iatromechanics thought that physiological phenomena of the human body followed the laws of physics. It was related to iatrochemistry in studying the human body in a systematic manner based on observations from the natural world though it had more emphasis on mathematical models rather than chemical processes.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to medicine:
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to physiology:
Together with physiology and biochemistry, anatomy is one of the basic sciences that are to be taught in the medical curriculum.
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