Function and Physiology Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 30, 2011

Function and Physiology


Just as all organisms have a certain type of body structure (anatomy), they also carry out various functions . A function is some type of “performance.” It is something that a structure does, or something that is done to a particular structure. For example, both a hammer and a nail are structures. When a hammer pounds a nail (or when a nail is being pounded by a hammer), a function or “performance” is being carried out. The hammer is doing something (pounding the nail), and the nail is having something done to it (being pounded upon).

You might consider function as being a verb, because it involves some action. Conversely, you could think of structure as being a noun, because it is some thing.


When we consider living organisms, the word, physiology ( fih -zee- AHL -uh-jee), is used. Physiology is body function and the study of body functions. Unlike anatomy, physiology only occurs within living organisms. Why? Only living organisms carry out body functions. A dead, pickled frog, for instance, still has a recognizable anatomy. It has both legs still present, and a heart. But its legs are limp and lifeless, and the heart pumps no blood. Thus, the frog’s body no longer has physiology, because it is dead.


Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:  The Coming Of Biology Test

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