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The community of the self

Abstract

Good health, which reflects the harmonious integration of molecules, cells, tissues and organs, is dynamically stable: when displaced by disease, compensation and correction are common, even without medical care. Physiology and computational biology now suggest that healthy dynamic stability arises through the combination of specific feedback mechanisms and spontaneous properties of interconnected networks. Today's physicians are already testing to 'see if the network is right'; tomorrow's physicians may well use therapies to 'make the network right'.

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Figure 1: The concept of homeostasis.
Figure 2: Interbeat variability in health, ageing and disease.

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Acknowledgements

Work in the author's laboratory is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Nursing Research. T.G.B. thanks the following colleagues for their comments during preparation and review of this article: N. Chambers, P. Cobb, J. Collins, W. Fontana, B. Goldstein, K. Kaneko, H. Kitano, D. Noble, S. Pincus and K. Tracey.

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Correspondence to Timothy G. Buchman.

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Buchman, T. The community of the self. Nature 420, 246–251 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01260

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