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ch01.2 - Levels of Structural Organization

ch01.2 - Levels of Structural Organization - 2 Essentials...

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An Overview of Anatomy and Physiology Most of us are naturally curious about our bodies; we want to know what makes us tick. This curios- ity is even seen in infants, who can keep them- selves happy for a long time staring at their own hands or pulling their mother’s nose. Older chil- dren wonder where food goes when they swallow it, and some believe that they will grow a water- melon in their belly if they swallow the seeds. They scream loudly when approached by medical personnel (fearing shots that sting), but they like to play doctor. 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 biol- ogy, explore many of these topics as they describe how our bodies are put together and how they work. Anatomy Anatomy (ah-nat o-me) is the study of the struc- ture and shape of the body and body parts and their relationships to one another. Whenever we look at our own body or study large body struc- tures such as the heart or bones, we are observ- ing 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 stud- ies preserved animals or their organs are dis- sected (cut up) to be examined. On the other hand, if a microscope or magnifying instrument is used to see very small structures in the body, we are studying microscopic anatomy . The cells and tissues of the body can only be seen through a microscope. Physiology 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, phys- iology has many subdivisions. For example, neuro- physiology explains the workings of the nervous system, and cardiac physiology studies the func- tion of the heart, which acts as a muscular pump to keep blood flowing throughout the body. Relationship between Anatomy and Physiology In the real world, anatomy and physiology are always related. 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 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. The intimate re- lationship between anatomy and physiology is stressed throughout this book to make your learn- ing meaningful. Levels of Structural Organization From Atoms to Organisms The human body exhibits many levels of structural complexity (Figure 1.1). The simplest level of the structural ladder is the chemical level, which we will study in Chapter 2. At this level, atoms, tiny building blocks of matter, combine to form molecules such as water, sugar, and proteins. Mol- ecules, in turn, associate in specific ways to form microscopic cells,
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