Network physiology is an emerging interdisciplinary field that aims to determine how the various organs and physiologic systems within the human body interact. The human body is an integrated network, in which complex physiological systems continuously interact to coordinate their functions. Such interactions are essential to produce distinct physiologic states, such as consciousness and unconsciousness. Disrupting organ communications can lead to dysfunction of individual systems or breakdown of the entire physiologic network, as seen in conditions such as sepsis, coma and multiple organ failure.

But despite their importance to basic physiology and clinical practice, we do not know the principles and mechanisms through which diverse physiological systems and organs dynamically interact and integrate. Identifying and quantifying the network of physiologic interactions between diverse integrated organ systems is a major challenge – and one that network physiology aims to address.

Focus issue objectives

The Physiological Measurement focus issue seeks to provide a forum for developing new methodologies and theoretical frameworks to address problems in network physiology; to initiate development of new databases of continuous and synchronous recordings of multiple physiological parameters; and to promote data-driven discoveries of the basic physiologic laws and control mechanisms that underlay physiologic interactions.

To achieve this, the journal aims to bring together basic physiologists, medical specialists and clinical practitioners with researchers from the fields of biomedical engineering, signal processing, nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics.

Of particular interest are new approaches to identify and quantify forms of physiologic coupling, as well as the development of new and little-explored areas of network science relevant to integrated physiological systems. This includes:

• Studies on structural and dynamical aspects of physiological systems that transcend space and time scales.
• Functional forms of physiologic coupling, time variation and effects of pair-wise interactions on the dynamics and control of individual systems.
• Networks comprised of diverse physiological systems and associations between physiologic network structure and physiologic function.
• Evolution of pair-wise coupling and network topology with transitions across physiologic states; basic principles of hierarchical network reorganization.
• The role of time-dependent network interactions for emergent transitions in network topology and function.
• Manipulation, control and global dynamics of networks in response to clinical treatment.
• Information flow on network topology in relation to cellular and neuronal assemblies and autonomic control of organ systems.
• Networks of physiological networks transcending interactions of sub-systems to interactions among organs.
• Cascades of failure across systems as encountered in ICU critical care.

Focus issue papers should describe original scientific research, techniques and applications, and normally be less than 8000 words. To submit to this Physiological Measurement focus issue, visit and select "Special Issue Article". All submissions are subject to the journal's rigorous peer review system. Once accepted, articles will be published immediately and collected on a dedicated focus issue webpage.

Related stories

• Journals award 'best paper' prizes
• Neutrons quantify in vivo selenium levels
• Can EIT diagnose pulmonary embolism?
• New Editor-in-Chief for Physiological Measurement