The study of how living organisms function including such processes as nutrition, movement, and reproduction. The word “function” is important to the definition of physiology because physiology traditionally had to do with the function of living things while anatomy had to do with morphology, the shape and form, of things. Human physiology today is a science of wide scope: Some physiological studies are concerned with processes that go on within cells such as phagocytosis, the process by which cells engulf and usually digest particles, bacteria and other microorganisms, and even harmful cells. The physiology of cells is called cell physiology. Other physiological studies deal with how tissues and organs work, how they are controlled and interact with other tissues and organs and how they are integrated within the individual. Yet other physiological studies deal with how we respond to our environment. For example, to extremes of temperature (in arctic conditions versus the desert), to changes in pressure (deep under the ocean versus weightless in space), etc. Human physiological processes are the functions of living persons and their parts, and the physical and chemical factors and processes involved. In 1901 when the Nobel Prizes were established, one was the “Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine”. Ivan Pavlov (Russia, psychology, and physiology, 1904), Frederick Banting and John Macleod (Canada, discovery of insulin, 1923), Hermann J. Muller (U.S., mutations by radiation, 1946), Francis Crick, James Watson & Maurice Wilkins (U.K. & U.S., the DNA double helix, 1962), Barbara McClintock (U.S., jumping genes, 1983) and Joseph Murray & Donnall Thomas (U.S., kidney & bone marrow transplantation, 1990) have been among the many celebrated recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
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The science concerned with the normal vital processes of animal and vegetable organisms, especially as to how things normally function in the living organism rather than to their anatomical structure, their biochemical composition, or how they are affected by drugs or disease. [L. or G. physiologia, fr. G. physis, nature, + logos, study]
- comparative p. the science concerned with the differences in the vital processes in different species of organisms, particularly with a view to the adaptation of the processes to the specific needs of the species, to illuminating the evolutionary relationships among different species, or to establishing other interspecific generalizations and relationships.
- general p. the science of the functions or vital processes common to almost all living things, whether animal or plant, as opposed to aspects of p. peculiar to particular types of animals or plants, or to the application of p. to applied sciences such as medicine and agriculture.
- hominal p. p. as applied to the elucidation of the normal functions of the human being.
- pathologic p. that part of the science of disease concerned with disordered function, as distinguished from anatomical lesions. SYN: physiopathology.

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phys·i·ol·o·gy .fiz-ē-'äl-ə-jē n, pl -gies
1) a branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved compare ANATOMY (1), MORPHOLOGY (1)
2) the organic processes and phenomena of an organism or any of its parts or of a particular bodily process <the \physiology of the thyroid gland>
3) a treatise on physiology

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the science of the functioning of living organisms and of their component parts.
physiological adj.

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phys·i·ol·o·gy (fiz″e-olґə-je) [physio- + -logy] 1. the science of the functions of the living organism and its parts, and of the physical and chemical factors and processes involved. 2. the basic processes underlying the functioning of a species or class of organism, or any of its parts or processes.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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