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Physiology (

Ancient Greek φύσις (phúsis) 'nature, origin', and -λογία (-logía) 'study of')[1] is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system.[2][3] As a sub-discipline of biology, physiology focuses on how organisms, organ systems, individual organs, cells, and biomolecules carry out the chemical and physical functions in a living system.[4] According to the classes of organisms, the field can be divided into medical physiology, animal physiology, plant physiology, cell physiology, and comparative physiology.[4]

Central to physiological functioning are

biochemical processes, homeostatic control mechanisms, and communication between cells.[5] Physiological state is the condition of normal function. In contrast, pathological state refers to abnormal conditions, including human diseases

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for exceptional scientific achievements in physiology related to the field of medicine.


Physiology is the branch of biology that focuses on the study of the functions and mechanisms of living organisms, from the molecular and cellular level to the level of whole organisms and populations. The foundations of physiology lie in several key areas, including anatomy, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, and evolution.

Anatomy is the study of the structure and organization of living organisms, from the microscopic level of cells and tissues to the macroscopic level of organs and systems. An understanding of anatomy is essential for understanding the physiological functions of organisms, as the structure of an organism often dictates its function.

Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes and substances that occur within living organisms. It provides the foundation for understanding the metabolic processes that are essential for life, such as the conversion of food into energy and the synthesis of molecules necessary for cellular function.

Biophysics is the study of the physical properties of living organisms and their interactions with the environment. It helps to explain how organisms sense and respond to different stimuli, such as light, sound, and temperature, and how they maintain homeostasis, or a stable internal environment.

Genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of traits within and between populations. It provides insights into the genetic basis of physiological processes and the ways in which genes interact with the environment to influence an organism's phenotype.

Evolutionary biology is the study of the processes that have led to the diversity of life on Earth. It helps to explain the origin and adaptive significance of physiological processes and the ways in which organisms have evolved to cope with their environment.

Together, these foundational areas provide the basis for understanding the functions and mechanisms of living organisms at all levels of organization, from the molecular to the ecological.


Although there are differences between animal, plant, and microbial cells, the basic physiological functions of cells can be divided into the processes of cell division, cell signaling, cell growth, and cell metabolism.[citation needed]