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Homeostasis in the Human Body

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  • 0:01 Homeostasis
  • 0:59 Communication Systems
  • 2:06 Negative Feedback Loop
  • 2:51 Body Temperature
  • 3:27 Blood Glucose Levels
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Homeostasis is the term we use to describe the reasonably stable internal environment of your body. Learn how parts of your body communicate with each other to maintain this state of homeostasis, and how negative feedback loops work.

Homeostasis

Imagine a tightrope walker on a wire. In a way, we could say that a tightrope walker is maintaining homeostasis as his body balances on the wire. Homeostasis is a term that means the ability to maintain a reasonably stable internal condition regardless of the surrounding factors. Our tightrope walker looks relatively stable, even though virtually every muscle inside his body is in constant motion, making small adjustments so he can remain balanced.

The term 'homeostasis' is typically used to describe the internal condition of your body. Inside your body, there's a precise balancing act going on. Every minute of the day, the internal systems of your body are in constant motion, making adjustments that enable you to feel remarkably balanced. In this lesson, you'll learn how homeostasis is achieved within the human body.

Communication Systems

In order for your body systems to maintain a fairly consistent internal environment, they need to be on speaking terms. Communication within your body is accomplished through the nervous system, which uses electrical signals traveling along nerves, and the endocrine system, which uses hormones that travel through the blood to convey messages.

Regardless of which system is communicating, three basic components are present. You have a receptor to detect the change, a control center to determine how to respond to that change, and an effector to carry out the orders and return the body to homeostasis.

When you think about it, maintaining homeostasis inside your body is a lot like reporting a crime to the police. Let's say you see someone spray painting graffiti on the side of a building. You pick up the phone and call the police station, which then sends out an officer to return the situation to its original state. In this case, you are the receptor, the police station is the control center, and the officer is the effector.

Negative Feedback Loop

The scenario we just looked at is an example of a negative feedback loop. With negative feedback loops, we see that the original state is restored due to a response that opposes a change.

A great example of a negative feedback loop is your home's heating system. When the temperature inside your home gets too cold, receptors inside your home's thermostat detect the change. The thermostat, which is the control center, determines that more heat is needed and sends a signal to the effector, in this case, your furnace, telling it to crank up the heat. In other words, your home's heating system opposed the drop in temperature and restored the original temperature.

Body Temperature

Negative feedback loops are used for most of the homeostatic controls in your body. For example, your body has its own thermostat to maintain your body temperature at a steady 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body's thermostat is your hypothalamus. When your body temperature gets too hot, the change is reported to your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus then sends out orders out to the appropriate body structures via the nervous system. The result is that your body releases heat by sweating and through the dilation of small blood vessels just below the surface of your skin.

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