Summary: A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.
Source: Northwestern University.
ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN NEUROSCIENCE NEWS.
Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.
These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.
Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.
This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.
The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.
When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.
In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.
The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.
“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”
Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.
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Other Northwestern authors include Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Dr. Stephan Schuele and Dr. Joshua Rosenow.
Funding: The study was supported by grants R00DC012803, R21DC012014 and R01DC013243 from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health.
Source: Marla Paul – Northwestern University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Video Source: The video is credited to NorthwesternU.
Original Research: Abstract for “Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016
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Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function
The need to breathe links the mammalian olfactory system inextricably to the respiratory rhythms that draw air through the nose. In rodents and other small animals, slow oscillations of local field potential activity are driven at the rate of breathing (∼2–12 Hz) in olfactory bulb and cortex, and faster oscillatory bursts are coupled to specific phases of the respiratory cycle. These dynamic rhythms are thought to regulate cortical excitability and coordinate network interactions, helping to shape olfactory coding, memory, and behavior. However, while respiratory oscillations are a ubiquitous hallmark of olfactory system function in animals, direct evidence for such patterns is lacking in humans. In this study, we acquired intracranial EEG data from rare patients (Ps) with medically refractory epilepsy, enabling us to test the hypothesis that cortical oscillatory activity would be entrained to the human respiratory cycle, albeit at the much slower rhythm of ∼0.16–0.33 Hz. Our results reveal that natural breathing synchronizes electrical activity in human piriform (olfactory) cortex, as well as in limbic-related brain areas, including amygdala and hippocampus. Notably, oscillatory power peaked during inspiration and dissipated when breathing was diverted from nose to mouth. Parallel behavioral experiments showed that breathing phase enhances fear discrimination and memory retrieval. Our findings provide a unique framework for understanding the pivotal role of nasal breathing in coordinating neuronal oscillations to support stimulus processing and behavior.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Animal studies have long shown that olfactory oscillatory activity emerges in line with the natural rhythm of breathing, even in the absence of an odor stimulus. Whether the breathing cycle induces cortical oscillations in the human brain is poorly understood. In this study, we collected intracranial EEG data from rare patients with medically intractable epilepsy, and found evidence for respiratory entrainment of local field potential activity in human piriform cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. These effects diminished when breathing was diverted to the mouth, highlighting the importance of nasal airflow for generating respiratory oscillations. Finally, behavioral data in healthy subjects suggest that breathing phase systematically influences cognitive tasks related to amygdala and hippocampal functions.
“Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016
In order to answer this I think it is best to start with another question: What is the most important difference between traditional therapy and Transformational Breath®?
Many of the psychologists who work with us believe that a Transformational Breath® session is equivalent to two years of psychological therapy. In case this is not enough, breathing allows us to integrate pre-language traumas and repressed memories. Once an experience is integrated the emotional charge disappears and the change is permanent.
However, the most significant and important difference is that at the conclusion of the Seminar the participants are able to self-facilitate their sessions. So you can take advantage of this powerful technique anytime you need it in a self-sufficient way, either to continue your personal process or to help with the day-to-day events that cause stress or anxiety.
The breath is yours and it is the most powerful tool you have to live the life you want.
If you require support or prefer to talk directly with us about your options to attend the Seminar call the cell phone 624-355-4596 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A few days ago I saw a client for the first time, when I asked why he had decided to see me, he told me that his doctor had told him he had to learn to breathe. It sounds strange? For most people it is, after all, the first thing we do at birth is to breathe and nobody has to tell us how to do it, there are no schools where we go to learn how to breathe (which is a pity). But ultimately what most people think is: if we were not breathing we would be dead so we can't be doing so badly. I imagine that the expression of my client when he listened to his doctor must have been similar to the one I see every time someone asks me what I do and my answer is "I teach people to breathe."
So, do you think it is possible to "learn" to breathe? Do you think we can "train" ourselves to breathe better?
Let's review some interesting facts about breathing. The average person can hold their breath for 30 seconds, with training they can do it for much longer, the current record holder is Alexei Segura Vendrell with 24 minutes and 3 seconds *. Amazing? Definitely! But before considering a career as a breath-holding competitor, you should know that experts consider repetitive breath-holding has negative long-term effects on the body.
The world record in breath-holding has increased 600% in the last 100 years, in comparison the world record in 100 meters races has only increased 10% in the same period of time.
However, experts believe that improvements in physical training alone can't fully explain the incredible increase in world records. Much of the improvement is attributable to the mind, assisted by relaxation and meditation techniques. I think we can definitely conclude that if it is possible to train ourselves and learn to breathe better. But the key is to breathe optimally, our physical, mental and emotional quality of life will benefit.
Do you want to learn more about learning to breathe? Send us an email: email@example.com
* Source Guinness World Records.
Where: CORNELLÀ, BARCELONA, SPAIN
When: February 28, 2016
Cada día hay mas conciencia de la importancia de respirar correcta y conscientemente.
Este artíclo es un ejemplo de esto:
By Dr. Andrew Lange Physician, author and lecturer
Is breathing deeply really good for your health?
One of the major misconceptions of breathing is that we need to get fresh air. Many methods of relaxation teach us to breath deeply, exhaling “stale” air. The Lamaze method of breathing for women while undergoing labor has taught us to breathe deep breaths. Kundalini yoga teaches rapid deep breaths. In most situations it is the last way you want to go about it.
When we have anxiety we often think we can’t get enough air, we’re trapped.
The truth is we always have a reserve of air in our lungs. There is always enough oxygen available to us at any time. The real secret of breathing is the availability of carbon dioxide in our blood.
We learned in basic science classes that humans breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. That’s why you don’t want the rain forest to be cut down, because it cuts back on the planet’s supply of oxygen.
Now another difference between humans and plants, is that humans run on red blood cells that have iron as its mineral base. The red blood cells carry the oxygen to where it is needed in the body. That’s why if you are anemic, that is have fewer functioning red blood cells, you feel run down. You aren’t getting enough oxygen.
But remember, the real secret is carbon dioxide or CO2. CO2 releases oxygen from its bond to the red blood cells. So not enough CO2 means your brain and body don’t get enough oxygen. This is not a big secret, during every surgery the anesthesiologist is constantly checking a monitor that tells them how much carbon dioxide is in the breath.
It has to be just the right amount to maintain the body’s functions.
OK, so back to your breathing. If you breathe deeply or quickly you give off more CO2. In hyperventilation situations you breathe off even more, so the body utilizes less oxygen. Think of when you have run too hard. You’re out of breath, maybe you feel dizzy or weak. Your muscles start to cramp. That means you don’t have enough CO2 to release the oxygen you need.
Remember how when someone is anxious and they were told to breath into a paper bag? What does that do? It collects the CO2 we are breathing out and increases the amount we breathe in.
So back to breathing. The body knows what to do under most circumstances. It is trying to maintain the correct balance of gases in our system at every moment. If we breathe naturally, it comes from the motion of our diaphragm, not the chest. The diaphragm is a huge set of muscles that form a hood below our lungs, covering the lower back and upper abdomen. As it moves it works our lungs like a bellows. It appears as if we are breathing from our bellies.
If you watch someone breathing you can tell if they breathe superficially from the movement of their chest, or deeply from the movement of their bellies. Any baby or cat give perfect examples of correct breathing. Most people think that expanding their chests means they are taking a deep breath.
But by breathing from a relaxed diaphragm, there is no effort. We allow the correct mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide to occur. This belly breathing is the secret to enriching our cells with oxygen. It enhances our mental function and relaxes our anxieties. If we pay attention to the deepest part of our breath at the bottom of our expiration we can feel the natural return to inspiration. There is no effort. This is the basis for the most common forms of meditation.
We don’t have to close our eyes. In fact, the best time to pay attention to our breath is when we are in a stressful situation. Instead of becoming anxious waiting for the light to turn, breathe from your belly. In fact, don’t try to manipulate your breathing, just feel how deep it sinks. This is the secret from athletes to people who have panic attacks. It is in your control.
A basic understanding of how our bodies operate opens up doors to understanding its relationship to the mind.
Dr. Andrew Lange served as Chair of the Department of Homeopathic Medicine and Supervising Clinical Physician at Bastyr University in Seattle. He is the author of Getting to the Root: Treating the Deepest Source of Disease and a contributing author to A Textbook of Natural Medicine by Pizzorno and Murray. For more information go to www.andrewlange.com.