Until now, scientists believed that a single area in the brain generated breathing rhythm, enabling breathing to speed up or slow down to adapt to the body’s activity and position. But UCLA neurobiologists have discovered that two systems in the brain interact to generate breathing rhythm — a finding that may translate into better treatment for sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome. The journal Neuron reported the findings in its March 6 issue.
“We originally thought that only one brain center was responsible for generating breathing rhythm,” said Dr. Nicholas Mellen, UCLA assistant researcher in neurobiology and principal investigator of the study. “But our research indicates that two cellular networks closely collaborate to control breathing. This brings us an important step closer to understanding how breathing control is organized in the brain.”
“Breathing is a good model for understanding brain function in general,” said Dr. Jack Feldman, UCLA professor of neurobiology and senior author. “Once we learn how the brain commands humans to breathe, we will gain valuable insight into how the brain produces other meaningful behaviors.”
Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
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