We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Our Marvelous Bodies

An Introduction to the Physiology of Human Health

Gary F. Merrill

Publication Year: 2008

Our Marvelous Bodies offers a unique perspective on the structure, function, and care of the major systems of the human body. Unlike other texts that use a strictly scientific approach, physiologist Gary F. Merrill relays medical facts alongside personal stories that help students relate to and apply the information.Readers learn the basics of feedback control systems, homeostasis, and physiological gradients. These principles apply to an understanding of the body's functioning under optimal, healthy conditions, and they provide insight into states of acute and chronic illness. Separate chapters are devoted to each of the body's systems in detail: nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and immune. Through a series of real-life examples, the book also shows the importance of maintaining careful medical records for health care professionals, scientists, and patients alike.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Front Matter

pdf iconDownload PDF (26.5 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (41.9 KB)
pp. v-vii


pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. ix


pdf iconDownload PDF (20.9 KB)
pp. xi-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (27.5 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

I attended an international conference for biomedical scientists in San Diego, California, in the spring of 2005. The deaths of Pope John Paul II and Terry Schiavo made the headlines during that week. Life support had been terminated for Terry Schiavo two weeks before her death. She had suffered a major heart attack ...

read more

1. The Foundation

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.8 KB)
pp. 1-17

For students receiving their initial exposure to the life sciences, physiology is the study of how living things work. It is the bedrock of the biomedical sciences. As the American Physiological Society expresses it, physiology is the science of life. Physiology is an analytical, experimental, investigative, and quantitative science. ...

read more

2. Understanding the Mammalian Nervous System

pdf iconDownload PDF (328.7 KB)
pp. 18-34

Neurons, or brain cells, come in multiple shapes and sizes. Their common purpose is to communicate. Neurons consist of three basic components that enable them to communicate. These include the cell body or soma, an axon or cable that extends to an adjacent neuron or other effector, and dendrites. ...

read more

3. The Endocrine System and Physiological Communication

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.9 KB)
pp. 35-52

Both the nervous and endocrine systems were designed for communications. The nervous systems rely on the principles of conduction and transmission using electrical and chemical signals associated with individual neurons. Most commonly, these neurons are arranged in series whether they be on the sensory or motor sides ...

read more

4. The Cardiovascular System and the Blood

pdf iconDownload PDF (170.3 KB)
pp. 53-75

Homeostasis in the mammalian cardiovascular system depends importantly on the interactions among blood pressure, blood flow, resistance to blood flow, and other hemodynamic variables. Moreover, there are several important reflexes such as the baroreceptor reflex and the Bainbridge reflex that help maintain an equilibrium ...

read more

5. Health and the Respiratory System

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.0 KB)
pp. 76-93

Breathing in the human includes both ventilation and respiration. The rib cage, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles constitute a bellows-like system in which the lungs are found. Neurogenically controlled movements of the thoracic cavity cause the expansions and contractions of the lung that respiratory physiologists ...

read more

6. Kidneys and Renal Physiology

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.5 KB)
pp. 94-108

Among the many physiological functions of the kidney—including those that are subject to feedback control—one is preeminent and omnipresent from birth to death. This is the need to maintain the homeostasis of body water and body electrolytes. Except for short-lived maladjustments, water and electrolyte balance among ...

read more

7. The Gastrointestinal System

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.0 KB)
pp. 109-127

The mammalian gastrointestinal system is also known as the digestive tract or the enteric system. It is a complex system performing mechanical, secretory, digestive, absorptive, and excretory functions. Each of these is under the influence of local gastrointestinal reflexes as well as central feedback control mechanisms. ...

read more

8. The Reproductive System

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.9 KB)
pp. 128-137

The human reproductive system consists of internal and external organs that help identify one’s phenotype or degree of maleness or femaleness. The reproductive system is a complex organ system that begins to develop and differentiate early after conception. There are both physical and physiological differences between ...

read more

9. The Immune System

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.9 KB)
pp. 138-150

Our bodies are continuously bombarded by a variety of infectious pathogens including but not limited to bacteria, fungi, molds, parasites, spores, and viruses. Many of these circulate in the atmosphere as airborne matter. Their concentrations and varieties can vary regionally in any country or clime. ...

read more

10. Muscle Function

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.4 KB)
pp. 151-161

In chapter 1, I described the relationship between structure and function using two examples, muscles and kidneys, to illustrate. Structurally, muscle can be broadly classified as either striated or nonstriated. The two kinds of striated muscle are skeletal and cardiac. Nonstriated muscle is further characterized as visceral smooth ...

read more

11. Integrated Physiological Responses

pdf iconDownload PDF (62.0 KB)
pp. 162-169

At the turn of the twenty-first century, all things physiology were about integration. This means understanding mechanisms from molecular to whole animal levels. Such knowledge allows science to be quickly transferred from the laboratory bench to the hospital bed (translational physiology). Regulation of circulating ...

read more

12. For the Record

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.7 KB)
pp. 170-184

Physiology, like all sciences, is a science of record keeping. Some of the records are known as data. Above all else that they do, physiologists are first and foremost writers. Through the centuries, they have collected their records in different forms such as handwritten on paper, ink-drawn polygraphs, heat-inscribed ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.8 KB)
pp. 185-198


pdf iconDownload PDF (75.1 KB)
pp. 199-208


pdf iconDownload PDF (83.0 KB)
pp. 209-219


pdf iconDownload PDF (25.4 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780813544700
E-ISBN-10: 081354470X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813542812
Print-ISBN-10: 0813542812

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 22 illustrations, 24 tables
Publication Year: 2008