Physiology is behavioral.  As Fritjof Capra so elegantly said in his book The Web of Life (1996),

“…the organizing activity of living systems, at all levels of life, is mental activity”

Behavior is physiological.  As David Beales, A UK physician, said at the Royal Society of Medicine (March, 2004),

“Why is it that we physicians don’t look at physiology for understanding symptoms without pathology,
or what we often call ‘unexplained symptoms?  If we did, most of our patients wouldn’t go off in despair to complementary healthcare practitioners, and we might even earn back their respect.”

Science is about practical explanation.  Science is about prediction.  Theories are not right or wrong, in science.

They are more useful, less useful, or not useful.  Understanding physiology from a behavioral perspective is useful.

Introduction of “meaning” in physiology is useful. 


“Behavioral physiology” is a systems approach to understanding physiology.  It is the application of behavioral principles to physiological functioning.  It is about how physiology processes information, information about “itself,” and information about its environment.  It makes adjustments accordingly.  In biological terms these adjustments comprise “adaptation” and “homeostasis.”  In behavioral terms these adjustments constitute what is known as “learning,” which includes the principles of attention, motivation, emotion, memory, perception, and reinforcement.  Homeostasis, from this perspective, is “self-regulation.”


Learning is a fundamental life process.  It means physiological reconfiguration.  All living things, including cells, learn.  This is fact, and is not theory or wishful thinking.  Physiological reconfiguration, learning, is a creative process.  Creative process means intelligent evolvement of new biological mechanisms, “on the fly,” so to speak.  It means immediate adaptation, without having to wait for genetics.  It also means evolution based on emerging new principles, the science of consciousness.  These principles are about “meaning,” and speak to much more than simple survival.


Science is about questions, not just answers.  Implicit in poor questions are faulty assumptions.  For example: how does the mind affect the body?  Implicit in this question is the assumption that they exist separately.  Unproductive science is the result.  Thus, the behavioral input into the acid-base H-H equation goes unrecognized.  And, “unexplained symptoms and deficits” remain unexplained.  Talking about physiology in behavioral terms is practical.


Copyrighted by Behavioral Physiology Institute, Boulder, Colorado USA


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