Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology (12th Edition)
Most of us are naturally curious about our bodies; we want to know what makes us tick. Infants can keep themselves happy for a long time staring at their own hands or pulling their mother’s nose. Older children wonder where food goes when they swallow it, and some believe that they will grow a watermelon in their belly if they swallow the seeds. Adults become upset when their hearts pound, when they have uncontrollable hot flashes, or when they cannot keep their weight down. Anatomy and physiology, subdivisions of biology, explore many of these topics as they describe how our bodies are put together and how they work.
Anatomy (ah-nat′o-me) is the study of the structure and shape of the body and its parts and their relationships to one another. Whenever we look at our own body or study large body structures such as the heart or bones, we are observing gross anatomy; that is, we are studying large, easily observable structures. Indeed, the term anatomy, derived from the Greek words meaning to cut (tomy) apart (ana), is related most closely to gross anatomical studies because in such studies, preserved animals or their organs are dissected (cut up) to be examined. Microscopic anatomy, in contrast, is the study of body structures that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. The cells and tissues of the body can only be seen through a microscope.
Physiology (fiz″e-ol′o-je) is the study of how the body and its parts work or function ( physio = nature; ology = the study of). Like anatomy, physiology has many subdivisions. For example, neurophysiology explains the workings of the nervous system, and cardiac physiology studies the function of the heart.
Relationship between Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology are always inseparable. The parts of your body form a well-organized unit, and each of those parts has a job to do to make the body operate as a whole. Structure determines what functions can take place. For example, the lungs are not muscular chambers like the heart and so cannot pump blood through the body, but because the walls of their air sacs are very thin, they can exchange gases and provide oxygen to the body. We stress the intimate relationship between anatomy and physiology throughout this text to make your learning meaningful.
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