Essentials Of Human Anatomy And Physiology

Human Anatomy And Physiology: Defined

The Essentials Of Human Anatomy And Physiology

Human anatomy is the scientific study of the form and structure of the human body (Morphology). Human physiology on the other hand refers to the branch of science concerned with the physical, mechanical, biochemical and bio-electrical functions of the human body.

From the above definitions, it is obvious that learning about human physiology and anatomy go hand in hand as they are both very closely related fields, the big difference being that anatomy studies form while physiology studies bodily functions.

The Essentials Of Human Anatomy And Physiology

anatomy-physiologyIt’s a complex subject and to be able to understand it, you must focus on the essentials of human anatomy and physiology encompassed in two broad topics namely; human body structure and bodily functions / life processes. These two fields have all the information you need to understand human anatomy and physiology.

The study guide below looks, very briefly, at these two broad fields and then goes on to recommend resources that take this complicated subject matter and simplify it to make learning human anatomy and physiology simple (if that is at all possible!).


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Human anatomy and physiology study guide

1. Human Body Structure

Humans are arguably the most advanced/complex living organisms on earth. This is evident because the human body consists of billions of unique microscopic parts working together in an organized manner to achieve one common goal. To understand the human body structure completely, let’s take a look at all the components making up the human body structure.

A. Cells

Cells can be defined as the simplest living matter units. Cells maintain life by playing a key role in taking up nutrients and removing waste from the body. The human body has numerous cells which all work together to maintain life.

B. Tissues

Tissues are organizations of many cells performing similar functions. Tissues are therefore more complex than cells. They also have varying amounts of different kinds of nonliving intercellular substances between them.

C. Organs

Organs are made up a number of different types/kinds of tissues arranged together to perform specific functions. A good example of an organ is the stomach because it is made up of a number of different types of tissues i.e. muscle, epithelial connective and nervous tissues working together to perform a specific function.

D. Systems

Systems are also part of the human body structure. Systems refer to a combination of varying kinds and numbers of organs arranged together to perform certain complex functions in the body. The major systems in the human body include; Skeletal, nervous, muscular, endocrine, lymphatic, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, digestive and reproductive systems.

2. Body Functions And Life Processes

Body functions and life processes are another essential part of human anatomy and physiology. Let’s take a closer look at each of these sub-divisions of human anatomy and physiology.

A. Body Functions

Body functions refer to the psychological or physiological functions of body systems. Body functions are simply cell functions in a broader scale. The most important body function is survival. This function depends on the body’s ability to restore or maintain homeostasis which is a state characterized by relative constancy in the internal environment.

It is important to note that the body’s ability to perform various functions changes with time. The body usually performs functions the worst during infancy and old age. During childhood, bodily functions progress and become more effective and efficient. During late old age and late maturity stages, bodily functions deteriorate. The young adulthood stage is the best stage because it is characterized by maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

B. Life Processes

Living things have certain characteristics distinguishing them from non-living things. The main life processes include; organization, responsiveness, metabolism, reproduction and movement. Humans have additional requirements in life processes i.e. growth, respiration, excretion and differentiation. It is important to note that all life processes are inter-related. There is no single body system capable of working in isolation. All systems have to work together in balance to maintain life. Death and diseases like cancer occur as a result of disruptions of balances in these processes. Below is a brief description of various life processes.

1. Organization: Division of labour exists at every single level of the organizational scheme. Every single component has a function to perform in unison with others. If a cell loses its organization or integrity, the cell dies.

2. Responsiveness: Irritability or responsiveness involves detecting internal or external changes in the environment and reactions to such changes. Responsiveness can simply be described as the act of responding or sensing stimulus.

3. Metabolism: This is a broad term used to describe all chemical reactions occurring in the body. One major metabolism phase is catabolism. This phase is characterized by breaking down of complex substances into simple building blocks. This process results in production of energy.

4. Reproduction: In a broader sense, reproduction is the formation of new body cells to replace or repair of old ones. This type of reproduction is known as cellular reproduction. The most common and popular type of reproduction is sexual reproduction which results in an offspring. Both types of reproduction are essential for life.

5. Movement: Many movements occur in the body. On a cellular level, molecules move freely from one location to another. On a broader perspective, blood moves freely from one body part to the other. Body organs such as the diaphragm move with every breath.

6. Growth: Growth simply refers to any increase in size. In human anatomy and physiology context, it refers to an increase in cell size. Growth occurs when anabolic processes occur faster than catabolic processes.

7. Respiration: Respiration is another important life process. Respiration refers to the processes involved in oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between the external environment and body cells. These processes include; ventilation, diffusion of carbon dioxide and oxygen and transport of gases in and out of the body through the blood.

8. Excretion: Excretion refers to the removal of waste products of metabolism and digestion from the body. Excretion eliminates toxic by-products of bodily processes which are incompatible with life.

9. Differentiation: Differentiation refers to the developmental process where unspecialized cells transform into specialized cells adopting functional characteristics and distinctive structural. It is through differentiation that cells become tissues and organs.

It is important to note that the above life processes aren’t adequate enough to ensure survival. Life is also dependent on certain physical factors present in the environment i.e. oxygen, heat, pressure and water.

Human Anatomy And Physiology Resources

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By now you’ll begin to understand how diverse and complex the subject is but there are resources out there that make it a little easier. One such resource is the highly acclaimed Human Anatomy & Physiology Course which represents incredible value for money, enables the user to work at their own pace and in their own time and makes learning fun and simple.

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