Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Source: Northwestern University.

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.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

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.

ABOUT THIS MEMORY RESEARCH ARTICLE

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

Abstract

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

Brain disorders, stress , sleep and diseases

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Jun 5, 2017 – Science has linked poor slumber with all kinds of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system. sleep deprivation. Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brainforges new …

Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity …

Feb 12, 2014 – The finding suggests a key role for oligodendrocytes in long-term and perhaps permanent changes in the brain that could set the stage for later mental problems. Chronic stress decreases the number of stem cells that mature into neurons and might provide an explanation for how chronic stressalso affects …

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In other words, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, make inflammation worse, or perhaps make you more susceptible toinfection. In addition, research suggests that some people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people …

10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep – WebMD

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Feb 13, 2014 – Here are 10 surprising — and serious — effects of sleep loss. … ProblemsSleep disordersand chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for: … According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia — a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep — also have another health condition.

10 Facts You Might Not Know About Sleep and Mental Health …

May 23, 2017 – Poor sleep habits have been linked to problems like: depression and anxiety, increased risk for heart disease and cancer, memory issues, reduced immune … May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to have a better understanding of how sleep affects your mental health, check out these 10 facts: 1.

Sleep Disorders | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

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Poor sleep may increase your risk of disease

A poor night’s sleep not only makes getting through the day difficult, it also may increase your risk of disease, especially if you suffer from chronic lack of sleep. Inadequate sleep has been associated with obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer.

Studies in recent years have identified a relationship between lack of sleep and some of the top cancers in the United States: breastprostate and colorectal cancers. In addition, research suggests that people who have sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing any type of cancer.

Across the country, at least one in 10 of us experiences some kind of sleep disturbance. Stress, illness, aging and drug treatment are the main culprits. Quality sleep, though, is essential to healing, proper immune function and mental health, making it important for adults to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Researchers continue to study what happens in the sleep-deprived body at a biological level to lead to cancer. They have found that lack of sleep increases inflammation and disrupts normal immune function. Both may promote cancer development. In addition, the hormone melatonin, which is produced during sleep, may have antioxidant properties that help prevent cellular damage.

Here are summaries of recent research linking lack of sleep to cancer:

Prostate cancer: Affecting more men than any other cancer, an estimated 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer are expected in 2014. Last year, a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Preventionfound that men who suffer from insomnia may be at increased risk of prostate cancer.

  • Researchers surveyed of 2,102 men and followed the 1,347 men in the group who didn’t fall asleep easily and/or experienced disrupted sleep.
  • After about five years, 135 men developed prostate cancer, with 26 of them having an aggressive form of the disease.
  • Researchers identified a twofold risk of developing prostate cancer in men with sleep insomnia.

Colorectal cancer: It’s estimated that 136,830 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2014, making it the second most common cancer affecting both sexes after lung cancer. Inadequate sleep may lead to the development on colorectal cancer, according to a 2010 study published in Cancer.

  • Researchers studied the sleep quality of 1,240 people about to have a colonoscopy.
  • 338 study participants were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Those diagnosed were more likely to average less than six hours of sleep per night.
  • Researchers calculated a 50 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer for people sleeping less than six hours per night.

Breast cancer: An estimated 232,670 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. A 2012 studysuggests that women may develop more aggressive breast cancer if they chronically lack sleep.

  • Researchers asked 101 recently diagnosed breast cancer patients about the average amount of sleep they got two years before diagnosis.
  • They found that the post-menopausal women who slept fewer hours had a higher likelihood of cancer recurrence.
  • The study was the first to suggest more aggressive breast cancers are associated with inadequate sleep.
  • ————–

Connie’s comments: I use various herbs and supplements to go to sleep such as magnesium with calcium , Vitamin B complex, other herbs and melatonin. Room temperature of close to 60, dim lights, not so hungry and not so full before bedtime, quiet sounds and comfortable beddings help in getting to sleep.

I also use the Night Time formula from Pharmanex. Join here to order at:

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