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Physiology (in Greek physis = nature and logos = word) is the study of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of living organisms.

Physiology has traditionally been divided into plant physiology and animal physiology but the principles of physiology are universal, no matter what particular organism is being studied. For example, what is learned about the physiology of yeast cells can also apply to human cells.

The field of animal physiology extends the tools and methods of human physiology to non-human animal species. Plant physiology also borrows techniques from both fields. Its scope of subjects is at least as diverse as the tree of life itself. Due to this diversity of subjects, research in animal physiology tends to concentrate on understanding how physiological traits changed throughout the evolutionary history of animals.

Other major branches of scientific study that have grown out of physiology research include biochemistry, biophysics, biomechanics, and pharmacology.


It was Abu Bakr Al Razi (popularly known as Rhazes) who described certain physiological parameters when he went to establish a hospital at Baghdad in the eighth century AD. Razi was followed by Al Kindi, who wrote a treatise on human physiology. Anatomist William Harvey described blood circulation in the 17th century, providing the beginning of experimental physiology. Herman Boerhaave is sometimes referred to as the father of physiology due to his exemplary teaching in Leiden and textbook 'Institutiones medicae'(1708).

Areas of physiology[]

Human and animal[]

Human physiology (main article) is the most complex area in physiology. This area has several subdivisions which overlap with each other. Many animals have similar anatomy to humans and so share many of these areas.

Physiological processess[]

See also[]

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