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The Set point in a homeostatic system is the midpoint of balance to which the system is designed to return. (see also homeostasis). Homeostasis is common to body systems in living creatures.
Our bodies maintain our inner temperature, levels of sugar and salt in the blood, heart rate, muscle tension, hormone levels, and thousands of other bodily functions through homeostasis. They are flexible and adaptable to inner and outer changes, yet at the same time maintain a steady state. The simplest illustration of this is an artificial (manmade) system of homeostasis such as the governor of a steam engine or an old-fashioned thermostat that mechanically maintains the temperature at a certain set point [graphics would be useful here]. All these systems maintain homeostasis both within the subsystem and in relation to, and with, the various other systems. If it's too hot, the body triggers sweating and as the sweat evaporates it cools the body; if it's too cold shivering is triggered to warm it. When we run, our heart rate increases, glucose levels increase to provide increased energy, etc. and return to normal when we stop.
One of these systems, the stress response, is actually a system of stress/relaxation. It provides a response of alterness to cope with difficulties, and relaxes when these have passed. Homeostatic systems are variable and can adapt to the higher level of stress of big cities and dense populations or a lower level adapted to rural environments. Situations of traumatic stress, such as life-threatening circumstances, can alter the set point of homeostasis temporarily or permanently.
Many of the set points of homeostasis of the body are first established during the symbiotic bonding stage of infancy through attachment of the infant with their primary caregiver. When the infant is in distress (from hunger, pain or fear) the responsiveness and comforting of the caregiver helps the infant return to normal. Without this interaction the child will later have difficulties with self-regulation.
Many of of our bodily systems function through homeostasis--a system that provides stability, flexibility and adaptability, a term referring to any one of a number of quantities (e.g. body weight, body temperature ) which These set points may make it difficult to bring about change through behavioral means alone as the body has a tendency to return to the set point.
Set points suggest that there are central control mechanisms involved.
in medicine[edit | edit source]
In medicine, the term set point refers to any one of a number of quantities (e.g. body weight, body temperature) which the body tries to keep at a particular value. This concept is relevant to practices of physiology and psychology, among others. Example quantities with set points are body weight and happiness, both believed to have values that are difficult to change.