Interest in the human body and how it functions probably developed when our ancestors began to think about the reasons why people became ill and died. All earlier cultures had someone designated as a healer who was responsible for finding plants and herbs that cured body disorders. This healer also was responsible for praying or invoking the assistance of past ancestors to help in the healing process. As cultures developed and science began to evolve, interest in and knowledge about the human body advanced. Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian (1452-1519), was the first to correctly illustrate the human skeleton with all of its bones. The Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) wrote a book on the human body, and the English anatomist William Harvey (1578-1657) discovered how blood circulates through the body. These are just a few of the many contributors who added to our understanding of the human body and how it functions. Anatomy is the study of the structure or morphology of the body and how the body parts are organized.| |
| Physiology is the study of the functions of body parts, what they do and how they do it. These two areas of the organization of the body are so closely associated that it is difficult to separate them. For example, our mouth has teeth to break down food mechanically, a tongue that tastes the food and manipulates it and salivary glands that produce saliva containing enzymes that break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, thus beginning the process of digestion.| | |
| Pathology is the study of the diseases of the body.|
We still do not know everything about how the human body functions. Research is still going on today to discover the mysteries of this complex unit we call ourselves. To facilitate uniformity of terms, scientists have adopted four basic reference systems of bodily organization. These systems are directions, planes, cavities and structural units. When referring to terms of direction, planes and cavities, the human body is erect and facing forward. The arms are at the sides and the palms of the hand and feet are positioned toward the front. All descriptions of location or position assume the body to be in this posture. anatomy is the structure of the body, and physiology is the function. The study of the structure, or morphology, of the body and how the body parts are organized is known as; anatomy The study of the functions of body parts, what they do, and how they do it is known as: physiology The study of diseases of the body is known as pathology
When an anatomist (one who studies the human body’s structures) is describing parts of the body, it is necessary to make reference to their positions in regard to the body as a whole. The following directional terms have been established to facilitate these references. Use the figure on the right as your guide as these terms are defined. Superior means uppermost or above. Example: the head is superior to the neck, the thoracic cavity is superior to the abdominal cavity. Inferior means lowermost or below. Example: the foot is inferior to the ankle, the ankle is inferior to the knee. Anterior means toward the front. Example: the mammary glands are on the anterior chest wall. The term ventral can also be used for anterior. Ventral means the belly side.| |
| Posterior means toward the back. Example: the vertebral column is posterior to the digestive tract, the esophagus is posterior to the trachea.|
The term dorsal can also be used for posterior. Dorsal means the back side. Cephalad (SEF-ah-lad) or cranial means toward the head. It is synonymous with superior. Example: the thoracic cavity lies cephalad (or superior) to the abdominopelvic cavity.
Occasionally, caudal (KAWD-al) is synonymous with inferior. However, caudal specifically means toward the tail and, as we know, humans do not have tails. Medial means nearest the midline of the body. Example: the nose is in a medial position...