Does Structure Determine Function? Essay

Does Structure Determine Function? Essay

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Does structure determine function? Or does function determine structure? Two ambiguous questions which may or may not have a decisive answer, does each determine the other? By definition structure is “the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex” (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2016) whereas function is defined as “an activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing” (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2016). Here by definition you can infer that function is natural to a living organism, and thereby determined by structure. It is unknown at this point of time whether structure determines function or function determines structure etc. a bit like the classic “which came first the chicken or the egg?” arguments are valid for both sides. Though here we are going to look at the importance of specific structures which are arguably the most or one of the most significant in humans, and what makes up this structure and how each level from the body system to the molecular level is important to the correct functioning of this system and to the human body as a whole.
In human beings arguably two of the most important structures in the human body are the spine and the spinal cord. The function of the spine is to protect the spinal cord, provide structural support and balance whilst helping maintain an upright posture and also allow flexible body motion. The function of the spinal cord is to conduct information. This involves sensory information from the peripheral nervous system to the brain, and then motor information from the brain to a range of effectors including muscles and glands (Users.rcn.com, 2016).The spinal cord forms part of the central nervous system, so damage to the spinal cord can have sever...


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...lso form parts of the myelin sheath (Orth and Bellosta, 2012). The lipid properties of cholesterol means that it can carry out its function in neurones and support the work of the spinal cord, and central nervous system.
To conclude, it is shown that from a molecular level, i.e. Cholesterol all the way up to the body system level, i.e. the central nervous system, structure and how it relates to the function is vital in making sure an organism survives and everything is working efficiently. It can also be shown in other species and also in plants, i.e. with chloroplasts which are structured to allow photosynthesis within a plant. Then within this organelle are smaller and smaller structures all specifically, all the way down to the molecular level with genes coding for specific enzymes which has all evolved to allow a whole system to work efficiently and effectively.

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