Keeping the Breath in Mind: Respiration, Neural Oscillations, and the Free Energy Principle

Author: Asena Boyadzhieva1, Ezgi Kayhan2,3
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. <sup>2</sup> Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. <sup>3</sup> Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Front Neurosci
Date published: 2021 Jun 29
Other: Volume ID: 15 , Pages: 647579 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.647579. , Word Count: 146

Scientific interest in the brain and body interactions has been surging in recent years. One fundamental yet underexplored aspect of brain and body interactions is the link between the respiratory and the nervous systems. In this article, we give an overview of the emerging literature on how respiration modulates neural, cognitive and emotional processes. Moreover, we present a perspective linking respiration to the free-energy principle. We frame volitional modulation of the breath as an active inference mechanism in which sensory evidence is recontextualized to alter interoceptive models. We further propose that respiration-entrained gamma oscillations may reflect the propagation of prediction errors from the sensory level up to cortical regions in order to alter higher level predictions. Accordingly, controlled breathing emerges as an easily accessible tool for emotional, cognitive, and physiological regulation.

Keywords: controlled breathing; free-energy principle; interoception; respiration-entrained neural oscillations; self-regulation.

PMID: 34267621 PMCID: PMC8275985 DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2021.647579