Biomedical Cybernetics

The coordinated physiological processes which maintain most of the steady states in the organism are so complex and so peculiar to
living beings ... that I have suggested a special designation for these states, homeostasis. ... It means a condition - a condition
which may vary, but which is relatively constant.
Walter B. Cannon (1871 - 1945)

Homeostasis is a term that has been coined in 1926 by Walter B. Cannon. It means that the internal milieu of organisms is held actively constant in order to provide a conducive environment for maintaining life processes.

While the term has been introduced by Cannon, the concept of homeostasis has first been described in the 19th century by french physiologist Claude Bernard (La fixité du milieu interieur est la condition de la vie libre, independante [Bernard 1878]).

Homeostasis is accomplished by mechanisms like feedback control, feedforward control, efference copy or antagonistic redundancy.

See also[]


  • Bernard, C. (1878). Les phénomènes de la vie. Paris, éditions Baillère.
  • Cannon, W. B. (1926). “Physiological regulation of normal states: some tentative postulates concerning biological homeostatics.” Jubilee volume for Charles Richet: 91-3.