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For example, neurophysiology is the study of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves and how these work together to perform functions as complex and diverse as vision, movement, and thinking.
Even the three-dimensional structure of certain molecules is essential to their function.
Your study of anatomy and physiology will make more sense if you continually relate the form of the structures you are studying to their function.
However, current advances in physiology usually depend on carefully designed laboratory experiments that reveal the functions of the many structures and chemical compounds that make up the human body.
Like anatomists, physiologists typically specialize in a particular branch of physiology.
This is a micrograph of nerve cells from the brain. (credit a: “Writer Hound”/Wikimedia Commons; credit b: Micrograph provided by the Regents of University of Michigan Medical School © 2012) Anatomists take two general approaches to the study of the body’s structures: regional and systemic.
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Regional anatomy is the study of the interrelationships of all of the structures in a specific body region, such as the abdomen.For example, a systemic anatomical study of the muscular system would consider all of the skeletal muscles of the body.Whereas anatomy is about structure, physiology is about function.Form is closely related to function in all living things.For example, the thin flap of your eyelid can snap down to clear away dust particles and almost instantaneously slide back up to allow you to see again.When a body is dissected, its structures are cut apart in order to observe their physical attributes and their relationships to one another.Dissection is still used in medical schools, anatomy courses, and in pathology labs.Like most scientific disciplines, anatomy has areas of specialization.Gross anatomy is the study of the larger structures of the body, those visible without the aid of magnification (Figure 1a).Microscopic anatomy includes cytology, the study of cells and histology, the study of tissues. (a) Gross anatomy considers large structures such as the brain.As the technology of microscopes has advanced, anatomists have been able to observe smaller and smaller structures of the body, from slices of large structures like the heart, to the three-dimensional structures of large molecules in the body. (b) Microscopic anatomy can deal with the same structures, though at a different scale.