Engineers and non-engineering students have traditionally learned human physiology through absorption of information and behavior concepts. This results in being able to describe the particular relationships that were examined. However, the material presented in that form limits the student's ability to retain that knowledge or extrapolate it to new systems of physiology. Instead, we focus on creating an appreciation for the basic conservation principles that lead to simple, but quantitative, mathematical models of physiological behavior. Understanding of these principles creates an enduring understanding of the physiology and enables extrapolation.
In addition, simulation models allow for hundreds of experiments to be virtually performed by students to create a quantitative feel for the behavior of a system. This must be tied to several real experiments to validate the models and demonstrate the measurement of input parameters to the models. We utilize MATLAB and Simulink to generate computer models for differing physiological systems. Experimental procedures are performed with the BIOPAC system, and data analysis is done in MATLAB.
As an objective, each module attempts to explain a particular behavior of the system, utilizing simple differential equations based on the mathematical models presented in Hoppensteadt and Peskin "Modeling and Simulation in Medicine and Life Science". Each module includes Simulink files, any accompanying MATLAB plotting and parameter m-files, and an exploratory documentation. Documentations are provided for students to understand the connections between the mathematical models and the generated code. It is our intent for students unfamiliar, or intimidated by differential equations to generate an understanding and appreciation for mathematical and computer models. Students are able to follow step-by-step as behaviors are explained and transformed into equations, leading to their implementation in Simulink.
Created by Brad Sutton, PhD, and Manuel Alejandro Ramirez Garcia, B.S.