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Fundamentals of Human Physiology
The University of Melbourne, Australia
Physiology is the study of how our body functions. Our cells are a delicate bunch, requiring conditions to be just right to survive, and of course our survival is directly dependent on theirs. Small changes in pH, fluid balance, available nutrients, solubilised gasses, electrolytes, and temperature can all impact the... read morehealthy function of our cells. It is the role of our physiology to maintain these conditions within the appropriate and narrow range required for their survival. The principle of maintaining these consistent conditions is called homeostasis, and if our physiology is achieving its goals, our body’s parameters will barely change at all. This is an impressive feat when we consider what we put our bodies through. Humans populate the planet from its arid deserts through to frozen tundra’s; we climb mountains, race in triathlons, dive deep into the oceans, and even float about in outer space. Yet our physiology continues on with the thankless job of causing nothing. Meanwhile, if we peek beyond the curtains of how that is accomplished, our body is constantly adapting and adjusting: influencing our behaviours to seek shade when we are overheating, drink water when our fluids deplete, defend ourselves or run from danger. Internally, it is far more complex, with the systems of our body always working together to ensure our survival.
This series will explore how we maintain homeostasis through regulation of our external and internal environments on a cellular and systems level. Beginning with the control mechanisms, we will explore how our body detects different stimuli, processes that information, and enacts behavioural and visceral changes. Following this will be a broad overview of five different physiological systems and how they integrate: the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive, and reproductive systems. Each lecture will have a blend of slides, live drawing, links to additional resources, and ‘stop and think’ questions to promote active learning.
By the end of this series, you will have a foundational understanding of human physiology, how homeostasis is maintained, and how the major body systems contribute to these processes. This series will assume a foundational knowledge of human and cellular biology, including a fundamental understanding of cell membranes, proteins, metabolic demands and by-products, and ionic charge interactions.