Flesh out your medical study

Human Physiology
July 8, 2005

This book is mainly for medical students as the emphasis is on clinical topics. It is suited for "preclinical" physiology courses - a disappearing breed in times of systems and problem-based learning, when everything from anatomy to sociology of a disease or system is conflated into one lecture course. The authors robustly defend integrative physiology. They present not only expected physiological systems (cardiovascular, respiratory and so on) but also topics defying system-based categorisation (such as growth, exercise physiology and ageing). The text could be useful for courses in which physiology is combined with other disciplines; students could use it as a reference source. The authors' aim is to explain the principles governing "the physiological processes of the human body and... how these principles can be applied to... disease..."

This second edition adds new illustrations, expanded chapters that include new material and coverage of oft-neglected topics such as nutrition, bone and physiological changes through life. Lecturers can request a CD with the illustrations via an Oxford University Press website.

"Learning objectives" are provided, but a pedagogical purist might object that they state what the authors aim to teach, rather than what the learner is expected to perform. Spell-checking has not eliminated "chemica" in the heading to chapter two; ion channels are regulated by voltage or ligands, but not stretch; changes in cardiac output in exercise are not explained in terms of the intersection between Starling curves and Guyton's venous return curves, and how they change in exercise. In the enthusiasm for "clinical relevance", some important physiology has been squeezed out.

Alan L. R. Findlay is senior lecturer in physiology, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Human Physiology: The Basis of Medicine

Author - Gillian Pocock and Christopher D. Richards
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 714
Price - £35.00
ISBN - 0 19 8585 6

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