Physiology is the science of life, and sets out to understand how living things work and what makes them distinct from the non-living. It considers how our bodies are supplied with energy, how they maintain their internal parameters, the ways in which we gather and process information, the ways we take action, and the creation of new generations.
This Very Short Introduction explores the field of human physiology, considering how the body works, senses, reacts, and defends itself. As Jamie A. Davies shows, human life (and indeed, all life) is sustained by the interplay of a wide variety of physiological mechanisms and principles. He discusses the physiological experiments and research undertaken to understand these processes, and analyses the ethical issues involved. He also considers the evolution of the scientific field itself, showing how enhanced understandings of physiological knowledge can help inform medical research and care.
1. Human physiology: what it is and how it is done
2. Energy: food, oxygen, blood, heat, waste
3. Homeostasis: the stability of the internal environment
5. Reacting and thinking
6. From thought to action
9. Concluding remarks
Jamie A. Davies is Professor of Experimental Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. He has published 10 books, including Synthetic Biology: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2018), and Life Unfolding (OUP, 2014), and over 200 research papers on the cellular mechanisms that create and maintain the bodies of humans and higher animals. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.