A Brief Understanding of Homeostasis

Homeostasis is any self-regulating procedure by which an organism tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions necessary for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues and if homeostasis is unsuccessful, it will result in death or disaster of the organism.Homeostasis is the ability to maintain a relatively stable internal state that persists despite changes in the world. All living organisms, from plants to people, must regulate their internal environment to process energy and survive. For example, if the blood pressure of an individual is extremely high and body temperature is fluctuating, their organ systems will not respond properly and fail after some time.

A Complete Biological Understanding of Homeostasis

In the field of biology, everything eventually comes to an end up in a balance. This is perhaps the basic principle of existence. A proper homeostasis definition in biology – “The tendency or ability of the body or a cell to seek and maintain a condition called equilibrium (stable internal environment) as it deals with external changes. It makes use of feedback controls and other regulatory mechanisms in order to maintain a constant internal environment.”

Here are a few facts about homeostasis that you may want to know:

  • The term ‘homeostasis’ was coined by psychologist Walter Cannon in 1920, expanding on previous works of late physiologist Claude Bernard in 1970
  • Bernard noted how multiple organisms maintain balance in their internal environment in order to lead a free and independent life in the world beyond.
  • Cannon honed the concept and introduced homeostasis to popular audiences through his book “The Wisdom of the Body”.
  • Homeostasis process also maintains the water level, pH, oxygen, blood sugar levels as well as, core body temperature of a living being.
  • In healthy organisms, the homeostasis process unfolds automatically and constantly.
  • Several homeostasis systems listen for distress signals from the body. The nervous system detects these deviations and reports back to the control centre based in the brain. The control centre then directs muscles, organs and glands to correct for the disturbance. This continual loop of disturbance and adjustments are known as negative feedback.Read More

Positive Feedback and Negative Feedback Loops of Homeostasis

As mentioned in the above section, homeostasis primarily depends on negative feedback loops; therefore, anything that interferes with feedback mechanisms can disrupt homeostasis. In the case of the human body, it will lead to serious disease. For example, diabetes is a disease caused by a broken feedback loop involving the hormone insulin. The broken feedback loop makes it impossible for the body to bring high blood sugar levels down to a healthy sugar level.

Homeostasis circuit usually involves negative feedback loops. However, in some biological systems, it uses positive feedback loops. Positive feedback loops amplify the starting signal. Positive feedback loops usually are found in processes that needed to be pushed for completion not when the status quo needs to be controlled.

For example, a positive feedback loop comes into play during childbirth. In childbirth, the baby’s head presses on the cervix through which the baby must emerge and activates neurons to the brain. The neurons send a signal that leads to the release of hormone oxytocin from pituitary glands.

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