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Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. It is a subcategory of biology. In physiology, the scientific method is applied to determine how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells and biomolecules carry out the chemical or physical function that they have in a living system. The word physiology is from Ancient Greek: φύσις, physis, "nature, origin"; and -λογία, -logia, "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.[citation needed] 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.


Human physiology dates back to at least 420 B.C. and the time of Hippocrates,[1] the father of medicine. The critical thinking of Aristotle and his emphasis on the relationship between structure and function marked the beginning of physiology in Ancient Greece, while Claudius Galenus (c. 126-199 A.D.), known as Galen, was the first to use experiments to probe the function of the body. Galen was the founder of experimental physiology.[2] The ancient Indian books of Ayurveda, the Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita, also had descriptions on human anatomy and physiology. The medical world moved on from Galenism only with the appearance of Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey.[3]

During the Middle Ages, the ancient Greek and Indian medical traditions were further developed by Muslim physicians, most notably Avicenna (980-1037), who introduced experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology in The Canon of Medicine. Many of the ancient physiological doctrines were eventually discredited by Ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288), who was the first physician to correctly describe the anatomy of the heart, the coronary circulation, the structure of the lungs, and the pulmonary circulation, for which he is considered the father of circulatory physiology.[4][verification needed] He was also the first to describe the relationship between the lungs and the aeration of the blood, the cause of pulsation,[5] and an early concept of capillary circulation.[6][verification needed]

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