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Our Marvelous Bodies

Our Marvelous Bodies: An Introduction to the Physiology of Human Health

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Our Marvelous Bodies
    Book Description:

    Our Marvelous Bodiesoffers a unique perspective on the structure, function, and care of the major systems of the human body. Unlike other texts that use a strictly scientific approach, physiologist Gary F. Merrill relays medical facts alongside personal stories that help students relate to and apply the information.

    Readers learn the basics of feedback control systems, homeostasis, and physiological gradients. These principles apply to an understanding of the body's functioning under optimal, healthy conditions, and they provide insight into states of acute and chronic illness. Separate chapters are devoted to each of the body's systems in detail: nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and immune. Through a series of real-life examples, the book also shows the importance of maintaining careful medical records for health care professionals, scientists, and patients alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4470-0
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. 1 The Foundation
    (pp. 1-17)

    For students receiving their initial exposure to the life sciences, physiology is the study of how living things work. It is the bedrock of the biomedical sciences. As the American Physiological Society expresses it, physiology is the science of life. Physiology is an analytical, experimental, investigative, and quantitative science. For the medical student completing an MD degree, or any student in the life sciences preparing to see patients, physiology is the basis of human medicine, historically and in the present. Each year a Nobel Prize is awarded in physiology or medicine. No other life science, past or present, has such...

  7. 2 Understanding the Mammalian Nervous System
    (pp. 18-34)

    Neurons, or brain cells, come in multiple shapes and sizes. Their common purpose is to communicate. Neurons consist of three basic components that enable them to communicate. These include the cell body orsoma, anaxonor cable that extends to an adjacent neuron or other effector, anddendrites. Dendrites are shaft-like projections that arise from the cell body and make contact with multiple other neurons in the vicinity of the original cell. Physiologically, dendrites receive incoming information. That information is integrated and analyzed in the cell body. A response is then conducted down the axon to another neuron or...

  8. 3 The Endocrine System and Physiological Communication
    (pp. 35-52)

    Both the nervous and endocrine systems were designed for communications. The nervous systems rely on the principles of conduction and transmission using electrical and chemical signals associated with individual neurons. Most commonly, these neurons are arranged in series whether they be on the sensory or motor sides of the central nervous system. They are physical structures (biological current-conducting cables) in contact with other physical structures (other neurons and activators such as skeletal muscle cells). Parallel arrangements of neurons and their effectors, however, are not uncommon.

    The endocrine system is arranged differently. Historically endocrinology refers to selected organs called glands, for...

  9. 4 The Cardiovascular System and the Blood
    (pp. 53-75)

    Homeostasis in the mammalian cardiovascular system depends importantly on the interactions among blood pressure, blood flow, resistance to blood flow, and other hemodynamic variables. Moreover, there are several important reflexes such as the baroreceptor reflex and the Bainbridge reflex that help maintain an equilibrium in the above hemodynamics and that try to restore homeostasis when it is disturbed.

    The mammalian cardiovascular system is best understood by analyzing its component parts. In the simplest terms, these are the heart, the blood vessels, and the blood. The hearts of all mammals have four chambers: a left and a right atrium and left...

  10. 5 Health and the Respiratory System
    (pp. 76-93)

    Breathing in the human includes both ventilation and respiration. The rib cage, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles constitute a bellows-like system in which the lungs are found. Neurogenically controlled movements of the thoracic cavity cause the expansions and contractions of the lung that respiratory physiologists call ventilation. During the inspiratory and expiratory phases of each respiratory cycle, atmospheric air moves into and out of the lungs in a rhythm that is analogous to the flow of ocean tides. In both cases, air and water flow over the same path during each cycle. Because of this analogy, respiratory physiologists, pulmonologists, and respiratory...

  11. 6 Kidneys and Renal Physiology
    (pp. 94-108)

    Among the many physiological functions of the kidney—including those that are subject to feedback control—one is preeminent and omnipresent from birth to death. This is the need to maintain the homeostasis of body water and body electrolytes. Except for short-lived maladjustments, water and electrolyte balance among intracellular, extracellular, and intravascular spaces must be maintained twenty-four hours a day throughout a lifetime. Challenges to such a balancing act are presented by the daily cycles of hydration and dehydration we all experience. Consider the states of sleep and wakefulness. During the typical six to eight hours of sleep average adults...

  12. 7 The Gastrointestinal System
    (pp. 109-127)

    The mammalian gastrointestinal system is also known as the digestive tract or the enteric system. It is a complex system performing mechanical, secretory, digestive, absorptive, and excretory functions. Each of these is under the influence of local gastrointestinal reflexes as well as central feedback control mechanisms. Consider, for example, the medical problems a person might have if she ate three meals per day for several days without having a bowel movement. To prevent the intestinal storage of food wastes and the pathogens they support, a wide variety of gastrointestinal reflexes exist. In the well-tuned, normally functioning mammalian digestive tract, shortly...

  13. 8 The Reproductive System
    (pp. 128-137)

    The human reproductive system consists of internal and external organs that help identify one’s phenotype or degree of maleness or femaleness. The reproductive system is a complex organ system that begins to develop and differentiate early after conception. There are both physical and physiological differences between male and female genders. Males tend to have thick facial hair while women tend to develop breasts. But they are only subtly different or even the same at times in human development and maturation. For example, in the first several weeks postfertilization, the gonads are not yet sexually determined and can potentially develop as...

  14. 9 The Immune System
    (pp. 138-150)

    Our bodies are continuously bombarded by a variety of infectious pathogens including but not limited to bacteria, fungi, molds, parasites, spores, and viruses. Many of these circulate in the atmosphere as airborne matter. Their concentrations and varieties can vary regionally in any country or clime. But they are also normal inhabitants of the skin, the mouth, the respiratory passages, the GI tract, the urinary tract, and the lining membranes of the eyes. They regularly compromise physiological functions of the cells, tissues, and organs, but when invading deeper body tissues en masse they can and do cause serious pathological conditions including...

  15. 10 Muscle Function
    (pp. 151-161)

    In chapter 1, I described the relationship between structure and function using two examples, muscles and kidneys, to illustrate. Structurally, muscle can be broadly classified as either striated or nonstriated. The two kinds of striated muscle are skeletal and cardiac. Nonstriated muscle is further characterized as visceral smooth muscle or vascular smooth muscle. Smooth muscle does not contain well-defined striations and is most commonly found in hollow tubular structures such as blood vessels, gut walls, and fallopian tubes. As well as the above distinctions, scientists classify different muscle types according to both physiological function and metabolic pathways for energy production...

  16. 11 Integrated Physiological Responses
    (pp. 162-169)

    At the turn of the twenty-first century, all things physiology were about integration. This means understanding mechanisms from molecular to whole animal levels. Such knowledge allows science to be quickly transferred from the laboratory bench to the hospital bed (translational physiology). Regulation of circulating blood volume is one such topic.

    Hemorrhagic shock such as occurs in combat or in automobile accidents reduces the circulating volume of blood and causes hypovolemic hypotension. This has far-reaching consequences for the body and survival. It also exemplifies how multiple organs and systems respond in a coordinated fashion when the physiological homeostasis of the cardiovascular...

  17. 12 For the Record
    (pp. 170-184)

    It has been said that records are made to be broken. Of course this has general reference to sports and athletics. Still, it can apply to physiology, to your own health records, and to the records you teach your patients and clients to keep.

    Physiology, like all sciences, is a science of record keeping. Some of the records are known as data. Above all else that they do, physiologists are first and foremost writers. Through the centuries, they have collected their records in different forms such as handwritten on paper, ink-drawn polygraphs, heat-inscribed tracings, and electronic files. Physiologists call the...

    (pp. 185-198)
    (pp. 199-208)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 209-220)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 221-222)