about JSPA

Aim of JSPA

The objectives of the Society are the general advancement and promotion of research in physiological anthropology, including environmental adaptability, functional potentiality, physiological polymorphisms, technological adaptability and whole body coordination. The Society holds biannual meetings and other academic meetings to advance its objectives. The Society has around 1000 members.

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(a) Background before establishing the society

The organizational activities of physiological anthropology started in 1978, named “The Conversazione of Physiological Anthropology.” Till then, our activities were within the field of The Anthropological Society of Nippon, which was established in 1884 as an antecedent meeting of the society at the Tokyo Imperial University. It was in 1948 that Professor Toshihiko Tokizane, at the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, started to teach physiological anthropology in Japan. The study of physiological anthropology, being thoroughly influenced by the teachings of Professor Tokizane, began to evoke research activities around the 1950s, encompassing studies related to analyses of muscle activities and evaluation of muscle fatigue using electromyography (EMG). The studies further progressed to the next step; for example, relationships between work performance and morphological characteristics, and the effects of heat, pressure, and light on living systems. With every documented finding then accumulated, a base for the next stride was therefore furnished. Through a series of research studies, investigations have since been rationally steered to focus on the adaptability of humans in response to the various elements molding our prevailing modern lifestyle. Since this theme has first been incorporated into the field of biotronics systems (i.e., research based on an artificial environment chamber) in the 1970s, physiological anthropology has advanced by leaps and bounds, flourishing on testing detailed findings, based on data accumulated over time. It was at this time in the 20th century that The Conversazione of Physiological Anthropology took shape.

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(b) After establishing the society

Since the official launching of the said conversazione, the meetings have been held on a biannual basis, assimilating the many and varied scientific disciplines to eventually formulate an integrated multidisciplinary scientific study on homo sapiens, besides expanding the membership along the way (Sato, 1996). Under these circumstances, the conversation was renamed as the “Research Society of Physiological Anthropology, Japan” in 1982, and the quarterly issue of The Annals of Physiological Anthropology was published in time to commemorate the occasion in the same year. In 1987, the name of the society was changed to “Society of Physiological Anthropology, Japan.” Starting in 1992, the journal and PANews (society related information) have been published on a bimonthly basis. Furthermore, the memorable year 1992 saw the inauguration of the First International Congress on Physiological Anthropology in Tokyo. The basic concept of physiological anthropology in research aims to complement academic pursuits with global contributions. International congresses on the discipline were then organized on a biennial basis, coordinated by the Institute of Anthropology, University of Kiel in Germany. During the second congress, Nara Women’s University in Japan, the Institute for Anthropological Research in Croatia, and Hanyang University in Korea opted respectively to host the third, fourth, and fifth congresses. Then in August of 2002, the Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, in UK will organize the sixth congress, and the University of Ohio in USA has followed up the good work to host the seventh congress, scheduled to be held in the year 2004.

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(c) History of the academic activities

From the 1970’s to the end of the 80’s, we examined human adaptability to physical environments using biotrons, which can control ambient temperature, humidity, air velocity, air pressure, and illumination of light. We have evaluated the adaptability to, for example, cold or heat and to 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. From the end of the 1980’s to now, we have focused on the delicate physiological responses to physically non-stressful environments, because humans are not always adaptable to an artificial environment, even if they feel comfortable. Actually, we have some evidence that physiological responses changed significantly, independent of psychological evaluations. For example, a daylight fluorescent lamp, available in stores, caused a relatively excessive arousal level of the neocortex and higher cardiac related autonomic nervous tension during unconsciousness. We now pay attention to individual and population differences in the physiological traits, including potential changes by acclimation/acclimatization, which exist as natural and normal variations. Therefore we have to make efforts to study the biological characteristics that can explain these similarities and differences. We also start to take into consideration how the physiological traits, composed of many kinds of physiological tools of regulation, performance, and tolerance, are coordinated in different ways for adaptatibility to the living environment. To face this challenge, we have to consider factors affecting morphological and physiological polymorphisms and the degree to which they are fit for the living environment. So our task is to establish a methodology for Physiological Anthropology in order to meet these challenges.

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Yasukouchi A. (Kyushu University)


Iwanaga K. (Chiba University)

Kudo S. (Kyushu University)


Aoyagi K. (Nagasaki University)

Fukuoka Y. (Doshisha University)

Hayano J. (Nayoya City University)

Higuchi S. (Kyushu University)

Ishibashi K. (Chiba University)

Kitamura S. (National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry)

Kobayashi H. (Ishikawa Prefectural Nursing University)

Kouda K. (Kansai Medical University)

Kozaki T. (Fukuoka Women’s University)

Kusano Y. (Nishikyushu University)

Maeda A. (Kyoritsu Women’s University)

Maeda T. (Kyushu University)

Motomura Y. (Kyushu University)

Mukae H. (Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc.)

Nakamura H. (Kobe University)

Nakamura M. (Kyoto University)

Nishimura T. (Nagasaki University)

Oota H. (The University of Tokyo)

Sato K. (Tohto University)

Shimomura Y. (Chiba University)

Takao M. (Tokai University)

Takakura J. (National Institute for Environmental Studies)

Tsunetsugu Y. (The University of Tokyo)

Wakabayashi H. (Hokkaido University)

Wakamura T. (Kyushu University)

Yamauchi T. (Hokkaido University)


Katsuura T. (Chiba University)

Yamasaki K. (Jissen Women’s University)


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About Physiological Anthropology

Amidst currently rapid developments in science, technology and lifestyle, just what is it that mankind seeks? What sorts of selective pressures are being exerted upon modern humans, and what sorts of responses do these pressures elicit? We seek a discipline in science – or physiological anthropology – that addresses such current issues. One of the main aims of Physiological Anthropology is to conduct research into humans in modern society from both a physiological and a cultural standpoint, in an effort to create a truly healthy and comfortable living environment, because rapid advances in Science and Technology are having a profound effect on the human community, in terms of not only lifestyle and culture, but the physiological capabilities of the human body as well. Physiological anthropology focuses primarily upon humans as the subject existing in our modern technological society of today. For more than 99.8% of its history, mankind has lived and adapted itself to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. As such, it cannot necessarily be said that humans have established and thus possessed the appropriate nature to cope with the sudden appearance of a technological civilization today. It is therefore important to aspire objectively to the creation of living environments and lifestyle systems based on research which attaches importance to human characteristics evaluated from a viewpoint encompassing the past, present, and future. A major goal of this research field is the creation of an environment which will enable us and our descendants to live a better lifestyle. Physiological anthropology overlaps in many ways with research fields involving Ergonomics (or Human Engineering), Occupational Health, and other such kinds of studies. For example, in attempting to optimize a man – working environment system, importance is generally attached to variables like physical load, fatigue, productivity, efficiency, and so on. However, in order to devise favorable conditions of the various surrounding factors related to humanity, such an approach seems inadequate. As mentioned above, human history is composed entirely of a hunter-gatherer mode of living except for the last ten thousand years or so, and our physical resources are thus naturally well established by such a lifestyle, and have not changed biologically since those times. If we consider that 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; a discrepancy which must surely result in untold invisible stress. The causes of physical load and fatigue in a living system as described above should be considered within the time-axis of the adaptation history of homo sapiens; i.e., assessment of the present modern period of time as a single point in the time perspective may therefore be inadequate and biased. As such, postulating an extension to the axis of the future in a human society by inducing an organic relationship between humans and the environment through addition of time to the space dimension is indeed the most markedly special feature of physiological anthropology. One may be considering the differences between Physiological Anthropology and Human Biology as well. Both fields deal with human biological variation and its adaptability to the environment; however, an approach to their goals might be different as follows; (1) the subject of our investigation is apparently humans who are healthy at the moment, but who are exposed to a highly technological environment which might cause untold invisible stresses and result in maladaptation in the near future, and (2) we try to evaluate the potential maladaptation mentioned above mainly from physiological responses, because stresses, including untold invisible ones, might cause the imbalance of homeostasis, which should be reflected on the constrained physiological adjustments and functions: the central nervous system, autonomic and motor nervous systems, and hormonal excretions.

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