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Physiology is the study of how living things work. Physiologists can study how organs of an organism work together to make things happen. In human beings, for example, the digestion of food hormones and other chemicals are made by the stomach, liver, and pancreas. Muscle contraction happens because of chemical messages made by nerves of that muscle. By learning how the body functions normally, physiologists and physicians can better understand what happens when organs do not function normally. For example, an understanding of how the thyroid gland functions has helped in treating goitre. Studies of the circulatory system and the nervous system have helped physicians understand and treat such illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The field is usually divided into human physiology,[1] animal physiology,[2][3] and plant physiology.[4][5][6]


  1. Hall, John 2011. Guyton and Hall textbook of medical physiology. 12th ed, Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4160-4574-8
  2. Schmidt-Nielsen, Knut 1972. How animals work. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-08417-2
  3. Hill R.W; Wyse G.A. & Anderson M. 2012. Animal physiology. 3rd ed, Sinauer .
  4. Salisbury F.B. & Ross C.W. 1992. Plant physiology. Brooks/Cole.
  5. Taiz L. & Zieger E. 2010. Plant physiology. 5th ed, Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer.
  6. Kim, B.H. & Gadd, M.G.2008. Bacterial physiology and metabolism. Cambridge. ISBN 9780521712309

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