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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience


This represents an outline of the current lecture series, although these are subject to change in future academic years.

Endurance Performance and Training: Dr Christof Schwiening (2 lectures)

Use it or lose it! These two lectures will cover the physiological processes that limit endurance performance. I will start by examining the processes that are required to sustain raised metabolic rates. I will then address, from a physiological perspective at both the organ and cellular level, what the stimulus underlying training is and how and where adaptive responses occur. I will consider what sets the limits on training-induced improvements in performance from the cellular level upwards with examples including thermoregulation.

Detraining: Dr Andrew Murray (1 lecture)

We will focus on the reversal of training-induced features, including cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic changes that occur upon cessation of physical activity over the short and long term. The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle will be examined.

High Altitude Physiology: Dr Andrew Murray (2 lectures)

Over two lectures we will understand in some detail the responses that lowlanders have to an ascent into the rarefied atmosphere of high altitude (acclimatisation) and the evolutionarily-derived adaptations of high-altitude natives living in various mountain regions of the world. The first lecture will focus on mechanisms of oxygen delivery to the tissues, whilst oxygen utilisation during exercise and by the fetus during high-altitude pregnancy will be considered in the second lecture. (N.B. Dr. Murray was a lead researcher on the recent Xtreme Everest scientific expeditions!)

Arctic and Desert Physiology: Dr Matt Mason (4 lectures)

Lecture 1: Physiology in the Arctic
The effect of extreme cold temperatures on human beings. To what extent is human physiology able to cope with Arctic conditions? What happens when the limits are pushed too far? These lectures will review the basic physiology of thermoregulation before expanding into new areas, including looking at the basis of clinical problems such as hypothermia and frostbite.

Lecture 2: Other vertebrates in the Arctic
Although humans are not 'designed' for an Arctic environment, many other species possess sophisticated adaptations to allow them to survive sub-zero temperatures. In this lecture, we shall consider topics including fish with antifreeze, frogs which can freeze solid, and the costs and benefits of hibernation in mammals.

Lecture 3: Physiology in the desert
Here, we shall turn back to humans and consider how sweating alone helps to maintain homeostasis in very hot conditions. We will examine the mechanism and acclimation of the sweating response, before going on to consider the problems that occur if water and salt is not being replaced, and the physiology of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Lecture 4: Other vertebrates in the desert
We will consider thermo- and osmoregulatory strategies in desert fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds. We will then turn to mammals, consider the relative merits of sweating and panting, and then look at some intriguing adaptations seen in larger species, such as adaptive hyperthermia and selective brain cooling.

Physiology of Microgravity: Dr Mike Mason (1 lecture)

Through the ages, man has demonstrated his remarkable level of adaptation. Our relatively recent move into the zero-gravity environment of space has exposed the mammalian system to a new stressor. This lecture will introduce some of the key physiological effects of short and long term exposure to the zero-gravity environment.