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August 26, 1950

A Short History of Physiology

JAMA. 1950;143(17):1530. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910520072044

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Medical students need the brief and interesting historical survey which this book provides. Making no claim to complete and detailed coverage, it nevertheless describes clearly the origin and development of the essential basic concepts from which physiology and medicine, their vocabularies and methods, have developed. The first third of the volume covers the period from the sixth century B. C. to Harvey and includes a summary of the recently described contributions of Ibn an-Nafis. Although Caesalpinus is given credit for the first use of the word "circulation," Harvey's position is still regarded as pre-eminent because he was the first to consider function in quantitative terms, the first to appreciate the volume and rapidity of blood flow and the first to use the experimental method systematically.

The remaining two thirds of the book, with the aid of clear marginal headings, describes by subjects the rapidly accelerating development of physiology and adjacent

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