- Step 1: Understand the Basic Principles
- Principle 0: Anatomy or Physiology?
- Principle 1: Cells → Tissues → Organs → Organ Systems
- Principle 2: Body Organs Promote Homeostasis
- The importance of synthesizing knowledge
- Step 2: Applying the Principles
- Now You Are Ready to Learn the Specifics
- Before we get started… some general helpful links
- Digestive system
- Respiratory system
- Immune system
- Skeletal system
- Introduction to the skeletal system (ScioVirtual Level I)
- Deeper look at the skeletal system (ScioVirtual Level II)
- Integumentary system
- Introduction to the Integumentary System (guided notes from class)
- Muscular system
On January 21st, 2020, the New York Times published this article:
The article didn’t even call the disease “COVID-19” or “coronavirus”. Instead, the author just referred to the disease as a “mysterious respiratory infection”.
That’s because most people didn’t even know about the virus. We just knew what it did to our bodies.
Specifically, the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was by an anonymous man who lived near Seattle, Washington.
We don’t know who this mysterious person is, but for this article, let’s make the false claim that the first COVID patient in the U.S. was ScioVirtual Physics Instructor, Arvyn De (see picture on right).
Arvyn recently traveled from Wuhan, China back to his house in Washington. However, when he came back, he was:
- Had a fever
- Began vomiting
Clearly, the virus is hurting his body by preventing it from functioning normally. Specifically, the virus is negatively affecting the normal anatomy and physiology of Arvyn.
Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) is simply the study of your body systems (e.g. respiratory, digestive, immune, nervous, cardiovascular, etc.).
Here are the steps to learn the basics of Anatomy & Physiology.
Step 1: Understand the Basic Principles
Principle 0: Anatomy or Physiology?
We often group “Anatomy” and “Physiology” together. However, they are very different.
On one hand, anatomy is the structure of the body. For instance, if you dissect a rat and look at its internal organs, you are studying its anatomy. Another example is “neuroanatomy”, which is the study of the parts of the brain. Learning anatomy primarily tests your ability to memorize structures and sometimes your spatial reasoning.
On the other hand, physiology is more complicated than just knowing names and locations. Physiology is the actual processes executed by organ structures. You often can’t learn much physiology just through dissecting a body. Rather, physiology usually involves microscopic cellular and tissue processes such as the transmission of electric signals between neurons in the brain.
Principle 1: Cells → Tissues → Organs → Organ Systems
The body is made up of cells that make up tissues that make organs that then make organ systems. Read the Khan Academy article linked below to get an in-depth understanding of what makes anatomical structures.
Tissues, organs, & organ systems (article) | Khan Academy
Learn about the main tissue types and organ systems of the body and how they work together.
Principle 2: Body Organs Promote Homeostasis
One way to think of the function of our body systems is simply to maintain homeostasis, the body’s inclination towards maintaining stable health conditions to keep us alive.
In light of “Learning hack #1”, I will provide three articles in increasing difficulty and length. Choose the one that feels “just right” to you. You can also try to build up to the harder resource by going through them in order. Click the arrow to reveal the resource.
The importance of synthesizing knowledge
Anatomy & Physiology can get dense with information from over ten different body systems.
How do you keep track of all this information? How do you not forget everything?
The solution is: always remember the bigger picture.
“We have a bunch of body systems, and they’re all interdependent.”
Whisper that quote to yourself every time before you sleep. Tattoo it on your arm.
Take any component of your body and you will find that it relates to almost everything else directly or indirectly.
Interdependence of human organ systems explained
The human body is composed of many parts. Each part of the body has a specific function. Scientists divide the human body into systems to better understand how its parts interact with each other, to function as a whole. A body system is a group of body parts that work together to perform a certain job.
For a good example of the synthesis that you should be doing after you read a new section, attempt the question below before viewing the answer (by clicking the arrow).
Principle 0 states that anatomy is about structure and physiology is about function. Principle 1 is mainly about anatomy and Principle 2 is mainly about physiology.
Step 2: Applying the Principles
The more fun part about A&P is to now apply general A&P principles to specific body systems and health conditions.
Let’s go back to Arvyn and his coughing.
Medical researchers investigated why patients like Arvyn were coughing when they got the “corona.”
What they found was interesting…
- The virus enters through the nose or mouth of the victim.
- The virus invade the epithelial cells that line the airway.
- The invasion causes localized inflammation.
- This inflammation results in the death of cells through a process called pyroptosis.
The inflammation irritates Arvyn’s airway, resulting him in coughing.
How does COVID-19’s mechanism of infecting Arvyn demonstrate the A&P principles above?
The virus enters through the nose and mouth (two organs), invades the epithelial cells (cells) of the airway (tissue). This affects the immune system (organ system).
The invasion of cells by the virus causes a disruption in homeostasis. Thus, the immune system functions to remove the virus through numerous complicated methods, including inflammation and pyroptosis. (Note: this immune response causes both coughing and fever which is why those two symptoms are common when you are sick.)
Now You Are Ready to Learn the Specifics
If you just want a general sense of Anatomy principles, skip this step.
Now that you have learned the basics of A&P, you can apply these principles to understand specific body systems. Select a body system that fascinates you below to explore more.
You can get extremely deep into some of these topics. For instance, here is a public Anatomy & Physiology cheat sheet for the muscular, skeletal, and integumentary systems to the right.
Don’t be too intimidated at first. Most of the content will make sense after a few weeks of getting familiar to the body systems!
Before we get started… some general helpful links
Daphne (first ScioCamp A&P class!)- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRoV4VBN7wV0xOG95AeJqRQ
Crash Course - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q
Kurzgesagt - https://www.youtube.com/user/Kurzgesagt
Khan Academy - https://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy
Khan Academy but its bio and chem - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDkK5wqSuwDlJ3_nl3rgdiQ
Medic Tutorials - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJGs8jtPtmolMoCUXxIlkHQ
Dancing Scientist - https://www.youtube.com/user/dancingscientist
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