Anatomy and physiology are interrelated. Anatomy describes the location and structure of a particular body part. Physiology describes how and what it does – it is the study of how the body functions.
Anatomy is the study of the structure of living organisms, comprising large scale anatomical structures (gross anatomy) and microscopic anatomical structures (microscopic anatomy). Anatomy is always linked to physiology, the study of how biological processes function in living organisms. In the medical sciences, it is not considered sufficient to simply identify a structure, its function must also be described and understood.
The study of human anatomy and physiology provides an understanding of the structures of the body and how they work. When taking a basic anatomy and physiology course, the goal should be to learn and understand the structures and functions of the major body systems, remembering that organ systems don’t just exist as individual units. Each system depends on the others, either directly or indirectly, to keep the body functioning normally. It’s also vital to identify the major cells, tissues, and organs being studied and to understand how they function.
Anatomy Study Tips
The human body contains 206 bones and over 600 muscles. Learning these structures requires time, effort, and good memorization skills. The following tips will help make this learning and memorizing easier:
- know the language: it is most important to understand the terminology
- use anatomy study aids: these are almost essential when studying anatomy, e.g. flash cards
- constantly review what you have learned; use practice quizzes before taking a test or exam.
Physiology is the study of how the body functions. It is the study of the biochemical,
physical and mechanical functions of living organisms. A related discipline is
Biochemistry, the study of cellular interactions and metabolism. Human physiology dates
back to at least 420BC, during the time of Hippocrates.
The human body is made up of 11 body systems that function together:
- the skin is the largest organ of the body, comprising the epidermis and the dermis
- the skeletal system provides a rigid, yet mobile, structure for the human body
- the muscular system, and the nerves that supply them, generate motion in arms and limbs
- the nervous system controls movement and function through nerve impulses
- the endocrine system is a series of organs or glands spread throughout the body
- the cardiovascular system moves oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of cells in the body
- the lymphatic system is a network that provides a filter system for the human body
- the respiratory system controls oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release in the lungs
- the digestive system is responsible for breaking down, digesting and absorbing food
- the urinary system filters the blood and removes waste from the bloodstream
- the reproductive system, in both males and females, is responsible for human reproduction.
Physiology Study Tips
- memorize basic information as a foundation for later study, e.g. the eleven body systems, etc.
- learn the terminology; make cheat-sheets or flashcards if needed
- review your basic biology
- look for the commonalities between processes and functions
- set learning objectives.
For more information about the study of anatomy and physiology, I recommend the website: http://www.anatomy-and-physiology.org.