Glossary: Introduction

abdominopelvic cavity
division of the anterior (ventral) cavity that houses the abdominal and pelvic viscera
anabolism
assembly of more complex molecules from simpler molecules
anatomical position
standard reference position used for describing locations and directions on the human body
anatomy
science that studies the form and composition of the body’s structures
anterior cavity
larger body cavity located anterior to the posterior (dorsal) body cavity; includes the serous membrane-lined pleural cavities for the lungs, pericardial cavity for the heart, and peritoneal cavity for the abdominal and pelvic organs; also referred to as ventral cavity
anterior
describes the front or direction toward the front of the body; also referred to as ventral
catabolism
breaking down of more complex molecules into simpler molecules
cell
smallest independently functioning unit of all organisms; in animals, a cell contains cytoplasm, composed of fluid and organelles
control center
compares values to their normal range; deviations cause the activation of an effector
cranial cavity
division of the posterior (dorsal) cavity that houses the brain
cranial
describes a position above or higher than another part of the body proper; also referred to as superior
deep
describes a position farther from the surface of the body
development
changes an organism goes through during its life
differentiation
process by which unspecialized cells become specialized in structure and function
distal
describes a position farther from the point of attachment or the trunk of the body
dorsal cavity
posterior body cavity that houses the brain and spinal cord; also referred to the posterior body cavity
dorsal
describes the back or direction toward the back of the body; also referred to as posterior
effector
organ that can cause a change in a value
frontal plane
two-dimensional, vertical plane that divides the body or organ into anterior and posterior portions
gross anatomy
study of the larger structures of the body, typically with the unaided eye; also referred to macroscopic anatomy
growth
process of increasing in size
homeostasis
steady state of body systems that living organisms maintain
inferior
describes a position below or lower than another part of the body proper; near or toward the tail (in humans, the coccyx, or lowest part of the spinal column); also referred to as caudal
lateral
describes the side or direction toward the side of the body
medial
describes the middle or direction toward the middle of the body
metabolism
sum of all of the body’s chemical reactions
microscopic anatomy
study of very small structures of the body using magnification
negative feedback
homeostatic mechanism that tends to stabilize an upset in the body’s physiological condition by preventing an excessive response to a stimulus, typically as the stimulus is removed
normal range
range of values around the set point that do not cause a reaction by the control center
nutrient
chemical obtained from foods and beverages that is critical to human survival
organ system
group of organs that work together to carry out a particular function
organism
living being that has a cellular structure and that can independently perform all physiologic functions necessary for life
organ
functionally distinct structure composed of two or more types of tissues
pericardium
sac that encloses the heart
peritoneum
serous membrane that lines the abdominopelvic cavity and covers the organs found there
physiology
science that studies the chemistry, biochemistry, and physics of the body’s functions
plane
imaginary two-dimensional surface that passes through the body
pleura
serous membrane that lines the pleural cavity and covers the lungs
positive feedback
mechanism that intensifies a change in the body’s physiological condition in response to a stimulus
posterior cavity
posterior body cavity that houses the brain and spinal cord; also referred to as dorsal cavity
posterior
describes the back or direction toward the back of the body; also referred to as dorsal
pressure
force exerted by a substance in contact with another substance
prone
face down
proximal
describes a position nearer to the point of attachment or the trunk of the body
regional anatomy
study of the structures that contribute to specific body regions
renewal
process by which worn-out cells are replaced
reproduction
process by which new organisms are generated
responsiveness
ability of an organisms or a system to adjust to changes in conditions
sagittal plane
two-dimensional, vertical plane that divides the body or organ into right and left sides
section
in anatomy, a single flat surface of a three-dimensional structure that has been cut through
sensor
(also, receptor) reports a monitored physiological value to the control center
serosa
membrane that covers organs and reduces friction; also referred to as serous membrane
serous membrane
membrane that covers organs and reduces friction; also referred to as serosa
set point
ideal value for a physiological parameter; the level or small range within which a physiological parameter such as blood pressure is stable and optimally healthful, that is, within its parameters of homeostasis
spinal cavity
division of the dorsal cavity that houses the spinal cord; also referred to as vertebral cavity
superficial
describes a position nearer to the surface of the body
superior
describes a position above or higher than another part of the body proper; also referred to as cranial
supine
face up
systemic anatomy
study of the structures that contribute to specific body systems
thoracic cavity
division of the anterior (ventral) cavity that houses the heart, lungs, esophagus, and trachea
tissue
group of similar or closely related cells that act together to perform a specific function
transverse plane
two-dimensional, horizontal plane that divides the body or organ into superior and inferior portions
ventral cavity
larger body cavity located anterior to the posterior (dorsal) body cavity; includes the serous membrane-lined pleural cavities for the lungs, pericardial cavity for the heart, and peritoneal cavity for the abdominal and pelvic organs; also referred to as anterior body cavity
ventral
describes the front or direction toward the front of the body; also referred to as anterior