Yasukouchi Lab

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Research Fields of Physiological Anthropology

 A human history, around 5 million years, composed entirely of a hunter-gatherer mode of living except for the last ten thousand years or so. Our physical resources are thus naturally well established by such a lifestyle, and have not changed significantly since those times. If we consider our modern civilization has been but an instant in the larger scale of human history, a major discrepancy thus prevails between the environment to which we have adapted and the environment to which we are now struggling to adapt. The discrepancy might result in untold invisible stress and cause physical and/or physiological loads in our daily living system. Therefore, we should examine if an artificial environment truly fit for the physical resources of man by the objective methods.

 In 1970’s to the end of 80’s, we examined the human adaptability to physical environments using biotrons (climatic chambers) which are able to control ambient temperature, humidity, air velocity, air pressure, and illumination of light. We have evaluated the adaptability to, for example, cold or heat and hyperbaric or hypobaric environments from measurements such as maximal oxygen intake, PWC 170, cardiac out, pulmonary diffusing capacity, blood gases & ph, oxygen saturation, rectal & skin temperatures, and anthropometric parameters including body composition. Sex, age and ethnic differences in these physiological responses were also examined.
  In the end of 1980’s to now, we have focused on the delicate physiological responses to physically non-stressful environment because humans is not always adaptable to an artificial environment even if he or she feels comfortable. Actually, we have some evidences that physiological responses changed significantly independent of psychological evaluations. For example, daylight fluorescent lamp available in a market caused relatively excessive arousal level of neocortex and higher cardiac related autonomic nervous tension under unconsciousness.

 From now on, we try to pay attention to describing individual differences of parameters which should be considered not as errors but as real, in order to think over a truly healthy environment fitted for each characteristics of individuals and populations. Therefore, we have to make effort to study the biological characteristics, or polytypism which can explain the differences. To face this challenge, we have to consider factors affecting the morphological and physiological polytypisms along with a new methodology.
  Now, we have to make endeavor to grope for and establish a methodology of physiological anthropology in order to reach the challenge.