History of Physiology


Modern approaches to physiology developed during the second half of the nineteenth century, but philosophical inquiries into the vital functions of animals and plants are very ancient. Major developments in the history of physiology include William Harvey's demonstration of the circulation of the blood in the seventeenth century and Claude Bernard's discovery of internal secretions in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: mechanism; vitalism; endocrinology; hormones; neuroendocrinology; muscle physiology; homeostasis; cell biology; biochemistry

Further Reading

Coleman W and Holmes FL (eds) (1988) The Investigative Enterprise: Experimental Physiology in Nineteenth‐century Medicine. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Fye WB (1987) The Development of American Physiology: Scientific Medicine in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Geison GL (1978) Michael Foster and the Cambridge School of Physiology: The Scientific Enterprise in late Victorian Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hall TS (1975) History of General Physiology 600 BC to AD 1900 (2 vols). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Holmes FL (1974) Claude Bernard and Animal Chemistry. The Emergence of a Scientist. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lawrence C and Weisz G (eds) (1998) Greater than the Parts: Holism in Biomedicine, 1920–1950. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lenoir T (1982) The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth Century German Biology. Boston, MA: D. Reidel.

Medvei VC (1993) A History of Endocrinology. Carnforth, UK: Parthenon Publishing.

Rothschuh KE (1973) History of Physiology. New York: Robert E. Krieger.

Wolfe EL, Barger AC and Benison S (2000) Walter B. Cannon, Science and Society. Boston Medical Library in the Countway Library of Medicine. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Magner, Lois N(Apr 2001) History of Physiology. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003083]