What controls our breathing

Certain breathing techniques play a crucial role in yoga and meditation. Breathe in and out consciously, relaxed. A recent study shows what effect breathing actually has on our brain.

Breathing is vital. Humans can only survive for a few minutes without breathing. Breathing is automatically controlled by our nervous system. When we breathe in, air goes through our mouth or nose and into our lungs. Gas exchange then takes place in the lungs: While the oxygen (O2) passes from the alveoli into the blood, these absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the blood and release it into the exhaled air.

The psyche has a very strong influence on the respiratory center. We are breathless because of fright or we breathe shallowly and quickly under stress. But we can influence and control breathing at will.

US researchers have now found that the way we breathe has an effect on our brain activity. According to their study, which was published in the journal "The Journal of Neuroscience", breath has a measurable effect on memory and emotions. Above all, how the breath flows in and out: that is, whether we breathe in through the nose or the mouth.

Nasal breathing improves memory

When inhaling, test subjects were able to memorize objects better and also recognize a frightened face more quickly. However, only if inhaled through the nose. When breathing through the mouth, this effect disappeared.

"Our data are preliminary, but exciting," says co-author Christina Zelano in a press release from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "And while it's too preliminary at this point, it has the potential to develop some conscious breathing strategies for the cognitive Lead improvement. "

In their opinion, one of the most important results of the study with 100 subjects is that when inhaling nasally compared to exhaling, there is a "dramatic difference" in areas of the brain related to emotional processing (amygdala) and memory (the hippocampus ) stand.

"When you breathe in, they stimulate neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, all over the limbic system," says Zelano.

The scientists first observed these different brain activities in patients with epilepsy. A week before a scheduled procedure, a surgeon implanted electrodes in the patients' brains to identify the triggers for their seizures. The recorded electrical signals directly from the brain showed that brain activity fluctuated with breathing. This is where emotions, memory and smells are processed in the brain.

Breathing - that's how often we breathe

Adults breathe in and out an average of twelve to 15 times per minute at rest. Newborns, on the other hand, breathe 50 times a minute. By the way: Sighing is also important for our lung function.

How much do we breathe

An adult inhales around 0.5 liters per breath at rest. However, if you consciously take a deep breath, you can increase this volume to well over 2.5 liters. More than 10,000 liters of air flow through our lungs every day.

Snoring can be a breathing disorder

Snoring can also be the cause of a sleep-related breathing disorder. Anyone who snores and is done during the day despite regular sleep, struggling with circulatory problems and headaches should consult a doctor. Here you can find tips against snoring.