Biology 42 – Human Biology (Spring 2007)
Homeostasis of Human Organ Systems
[ Students and professors, please read. ]
This human biology project explores how the eleven organ systems of the human body work together to maintain homeostasis, the relative constancy of the body’s internal environment. It is organized around Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, so exercises engage all currently known kinds of intelligence, including linguistic, musical, visual/spatial, mathematical/logical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal (by engaging you, the reader), intrapersonal, natural and existential. I was inspired to use this method by my human biology instructor’s extra credit journal assignment I unfortunately never got to complete.
Set the mood with songs for each of the systems:
Cardiovascular — “Heartbeat” by King Crimson
Digestive – “Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit”
Endocrine – “Stand By Your Man” (long-lasting) by Dixie Chicks
Lymphatic – “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” by Johnny Rivers
Integumentary – “Touch Me” by The Doors
Muscular – “Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow
Nervous – “Just Another Manic Monday” by The Bangles
Reproductive – “Let’s Do It” by Cole Porter
Respiratory – “Breathe” by Faith Hill
Skeletal – “Dem Bones” by James Weldon Johnson
Urinary – Sounds from Nature – waterfalls, storm in a rainforest, etcetera :)
Which instrument best represents the heart beat? How do various tones, volumes, and instruments affect various organ systems – what sort of music can you feel in your bones, what sort of volume can you feel through the soles of your feet, what sort of rhythm raises or lowers your heart rate and makes you want to move faster or slower, and do you think that classical music is better for digestion? Google the “Mozart Effect” to see how classical music is said to affect intelligence. While listening to the above songs, or selections of your own choosing, take them apart by focusing on each instrument and notice how all the instruments work together to result in a song. Imagine that one or more of the instruments plays out of tune or stops playing, and consider how that would affect the quality of the song. Apply this thinking to the organ systems of your own body – those systems work together like a symphony of instruments to create a beautiful song. Without all of them working together in melodious homeostasis – you get a lot of static, a lot of feedback… or dead air. If your state of homeostasis were a song – what would it be? Perhaps you would have to compose a new tune, or a collection of new tunes, for the occasion? Perhaps you are not in a state of homeostasis – is there an appropriate tune floating in the background music of your mind?
VISUAL/SPATIAL AND MATHEMATICAL/LOGICAL EXERCISE:
A discussion of how the organ systems work together to maintain homeostasis is inherently a logical exercise in “systems thinking”. The organized table below is also a logical exercise, and it includes visual/spatial data in its arrangement and illustrations.
Sources of illustrations and most of the text below:
Pages 66, 71 of “Human Biology” (9th ed.) by Sylvia S. Mader, McGraw Hill, 2006.
[The illustrations would not copy and so are missing from this page.]
|Transports oxygen, nutrients and hormones secreted by the endocrine glands to tissue cells and transports wastes away from cells; defends against disease; helps control temperature, fluid, and pH balance.||Heart, blood vessels, blood, lymph, lymph structures.|
|Absorbs soluble nutrients after ingesting food and digesting it, eliminates nondigestible remains. Supplies blood with nutrients and water for tissue cells.||Mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas.|
|Coordinates and integrates the activities of other systems by secreting hormones, responding to stress, regulating fluid, pH balance and metabolism. Works more slowly, with longer-lasting effects than the nervous system.||Pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, other ductless glands.|
|Defends against disease in that it removes foreign bodies from the bloodstream; maintains homeostasis of the blood; helps control fluid balance, absorbs fats.||Lymphocytes, macrophages, antibodies.|
|Covers and protects the body, receives sensory input, helps control temperature, synthesizes vitamin D.||Skin, hair, nails, sweat glands.|
|Produces body and internal movement, maintains posture, produces heat that maintains body temperature. Protects and supports internal organs.||Skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, smooth muscle.|
|Receives sensory input, integrates and stores input, directs the body, and helps coordinate the activities of all the other organ systems. It responds quickly to internal and external stimuli.||Nerves, sense organs, brain, spinal cord.|
|Carries out reproduction, produces and transports gametes, produces sex hormones, nurtures and gives birth to offspring in females.||Testes, ovaries, associated reproductive structures.|
|Captures oxygen and exchanges gasses at lungs and tissues, maintains breathing, helps control pH balance. Supplies blood with oxygen for tissue cells and rids blood of carbon dioxide. Helps regulate the acid-base balance of the blood.||Lungs, trachea, other air passages.|
|Protects the body and provides support for locomotion and movement, stores minerals, produces blood cells.||Bones, cartilage, ligaments.|
|Removes nitrogenous and other metabolic wastes from the bloodstream by excretion, helps control fluid balance, as well as the water-salt, and acid-base balance of the blood.||Kidney, bladder, associated ducts.|
Go here and follow directions, as well as following all the links:
INTRAPERSONAL AND NATURALIST EXERCISE: Go take a hike in nature and record what you observe or imagine about how your various systems are responding together, and imagine the same things are happening in the wildlife and other hikers you observe. As you visualize your organ systems, make the mental effort to locate these systems in your body. This is a good time to test your memory of the various organ classifications.
EXISTENTIALIST EXERCISE: Healthy choices: How can we freely choose, despite being subject to so many biological mechanisms beyond our control, to help maintain our own homeostasis? The most obvious answer would be to eat a nutritious diet that avoids too much fat, sugar and sodium, drink plenty of water, abstain from drug use (including legal drugs like nicotine and alcohol), have sexual intercourse only with one’s faithful spouse, maintain a regular exercise program, get the required amount of sleep, avoid living in an area of high pollution, and avoid too much stress. Can you think of others? Avoiding too much stress, as well as all the other healthy choices, provides a link between biological and spiritual homeostasis. After all, biological homeostasis is a means to our existence, and not the end. Unhealthy choices with biological consequences are a symptom of a breakdown in spiritual homeostasis. There is an objective definition for biological and spiritual homeostasis and objective ways of maintaining them. Spiritual homeostasis is a loving relationship with God and eachother, and He has shown us that He loves us, warts and all, by taking our place on the cross. Spiritual homeostasis, if we accept it, produces Golden Rule choices between ourselves and eachother – healthy choices which result in biological homeostasis. Recall in the musical exercise, the question: If your state of homeostasis were a song – what would it be? Perhaps you would have to compose a new tune, or a collection of new tunes, for the occasion? Perhaps you are not in a state of homeostasis – is there an appropriate tune floating in the background music of your mind? Now apply that question to your spiritual state.
LINGUISTIC EXERCISE: The following answers the question, “How do the organ systems of the body work together to maintain homeostasis?” with an interwoven tapestry of all the text has offered on how the organ systems work together to maintain homeostasis:
Source: “Human Biology” (9th ed.) by Sylvia S. Mader, McGraw Hill, 2006.
The cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, integumentary, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary systems all work in concert to maintain homeostasis, “the relative constancy of the body’s internal environment” (p. 70). If one of these systems is suffering, there are repercussions on the other systems, as there is an interaction, an interplay, an integration between the systems which connects them into a unified, homeostatic whole.
Together with the endocrine system, the nervous system “coordinate[s] the activities of the other systems. The endocrine system secretes hormones that influence the metabolism of cells, the growth and development of body parts, and homeostasis. The brain receives sensory input and controls the activity of muscles and various glands,” (p. 285).
The nervous and endocrine systems help and depend on the integumentary system because “nerves activate sweat glands and arrector pili muscles. Sensory receptors in skin send information to the brain about the external environment. Skin protects neurons and glands,” (p. 285).
The integumentary system helps and depends on the urinary system because “sweat glands excrete perspiration, which is a solution of water, salt and some urea,” (p. 173). “As an aid to all the systems, the kidneys excrete nitrogenous wastes, maintain the water-salt balance and the acid-base balance of the blood,” (p. 173).
The urinary system helps and depends on the nervous system because “the kidneys regulate the amount of ions (like potassium, sodium, and calcium) in the blood. These ions are necessary for nerve impulse conduction. The nervous system controls urination,” (p. 173).
The urinary system helps and depends on the endocrine system because “the kidneys produce renin, leading to the production of aldosterone, a hormone that helps kidneys maintain the water-salt balance [of the blood of the cardiovascular system]. The kidneys produce the hormone erythropoietin, and they change vitamin D to a hormone. The posterior pituitary produces ADH, which regulates water retention by the kidneys,” (p. 173).
The urinary system helps and depends on the muscular system because “the kidneys regulate the amount of ions in the blood [of the cardiovascular system]. These ions are necessary to the contraction of muscles, including those that propel fluids in the ureters and urethra,” (p. 173).
The muscular and skeletal systems “allow the body to move, and they provide support and protection for internal organs. Muscle contraction provides heat to warm the body; bones play a role in calcium balance,” (p. 213).
The muscular and skeletal systems help and depend on the nervous and endocrine systems because “nerves stimulate muscles, whose contractions allow us to move out of danger. Sensory receptors in muscles and joints send information to the brain. Muscle contraction moves eyes, permits speech, and creates facial expressions. Muscles protect neurons and glands. Androgens promote growth of skeletal muscles, growth hormone and sex hormones regulate the size of bones; parathyroid hormone and calcitonin regulate their calcium content and therefore bone strength. Bones protect nerves and glands. [In addition], bones store calcium needed for muscle contraction and nerve impulse conduction,” (pieced together from various pages of the textbook).
The muscular and skeletal systems help and depend on the respiratory system because “the rib cage protects the lungs, and rib cage movement assists breathing, as does muscle contraction. Breathing provides the oxygen needed for ATP production so muscles can move,” (p. 213).
The muscular and skeletal systems help and depend on the reproductive system because “muscle contraction moves gametes in oviducts, and uterine contraction occurs during childbirth. Sex hormones influence bone growth and density; androgens promote muscle growth,” (p. 213).
The reproductive system helps and depends on the nervous and endocrine systems because “nerves stimulate contractions that move gametes in ducts, and uterine contraction that occurs during childbirth. Sex hormones influence the development of the secondary sex characteristics,” (p. 285).
The nervous and endocrine systems help and depend on the respiratory system because “the respiratory center in the brain regulates the breathing rate. The lungs carry on gas exchange for the benefit of all systems, including the nervous and endocrine systems,” (p. 285).
The respiratory system helps and depends on the cardiovascular system because “blood vessels transport gases to and from lungs. Gas exchange in the lungs supplies oxygen and rids the body of carbon dioxide, helping to regulate the acid-base balance of blood. Breathing aids venous return,” (p. 111).
The respiratory system helps and depends on the urinary system “by excreting carbon dioxide as bicarbonate ions, while the lungs help the kidneys maintain the acid-base balance of the blood [of the cardiovascular system] by excreting carbon dioxide,” (p. 173).
The urinary system helps and depends on the cardiovascular system because “production of renin by the kidneys helps maintain blood volume and pressure, by helping to regulate the water-salt balance. Blood vessels transport nitrogenous wastes to the kidneys to be excreted. The buffering system of the blood helps the kidneys maintain the acid-base balance of the blood,” (pieced together from various pages of the text).
The heart pumps blood, which clots to prevent blood loss and which carries oxygen and nutrients to cells of all the organs and carries wastes away from them through blood vessels.
The cardiovascular system helps and depends on the muscular and skeletal systems because “red bone marrow produces the blood cells and stores calcium for blood clotting. The rib cage protects the heart. Muscle contraction keeps blood moving in the heart and blood vessels, particularly the veins,” (pieced together from various pages of the text).
The cardiovascular system helps and depends on the nervous and endocrine systems because “nerves and epinephrine help regulate contractions of the heart and the constriction/dilation of blood vessels, thereby regulating blood pressure. Hormones regulate blood glucose, blood volume, blood cell formation and ion levels, and are transported by blood vessels from glands to their target organs. Growth factors promote blood cell formation. Blood vessels transport hormones to target cells,” (pieced together from various pages in the text).
The cardiovascular system helps and depends on the lymphatic system because “capillaries are the source of tissue fluid, which becomes lymph. The lymphatic system helps maintain blood volume by collecting excess tissue fluid (i.e., lymph), and returning it via lymphatic vessels to the cardiovascular veins,” (p. 111).
The cardiovascular system helps and depends on the digestive system by delivering “nutrients from the digestive tract to the cells. The digestive tract provides the molecules needed for plasma protein formation and blood cell formation. The digestive system absorbs the water needed to maintain blood pressure and the calcium needed for blood clotting,” (p. 111).
The digestive system helps and depends on the nervous and endocrine systems because “nerves stimulate smooth muscle and permit digestive tract movements. Hormones help regulate digestive juices that break down food to nutrients for neurons and glands,” (p. 285).
The nervous and endocrine systems help and depend on the urinary system because “nerves stimulate muscles that permit urination. Hormones (ADH and aldosterone) help kidneys regulate the water-salt balance and the acid-base balance of the blood,” (p. 285).
The urinary system helps and depends on the muscular and skeletal systems because “muscle contraction moves the fluid within ureters, bladder, and urethra. Kidneys activate vitamin D needed for calcium absorption and help maintain the blood level of calcium for bone growth and repair, and for muscle contraction,” (p. 213).
The muscular and skeletal systems help and depend on the digestive system because “jaws contain teeth that chew food; the hyoid bone assists swallowing. Muscle contraction accounts for chewing of food and peristalsis to move food along digestive tract. The digestive tract absorbs ions needed for strong bones and muscle contraction,” (p. 213).
The digestive system helps and depends on the urinary system because “the liver produces urea excreted by the kidneys. The yellow pigment found in urine, called urochrome (breakdown product of hemoglobin), is produced by the liver. The digestive system absorbs nutrients, ions, and water. These help the kidneys maintain the proper level of ions and water in the blood,” (p. 173).