Respiration-Driven Brain Oscillations in Emotional Cognition

Author: Shani Folschweiller1,2, Jonas-Frederic Sauer1
1 Institute for Physiology I, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
2 Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Front Neural Circuits
Date published: 2021 Oct 27
Other: Volume ID: 15 , Pages: 761812 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fncir.2021.761812. , Word Count: 179

Respiration paces brain oscillations and the firing of individual neurons, revealing a profound impact of rhythmic breathing on brain activity. Intriguingly, respiration-driven entrainment of neural activity occurs in a variety of cortical areas, including those involved in higher cognitive functions such as associative neocortical regions and the hippocampus. Here we review recent findings of respiration-entrained brain activity with a particular focus on emotional cognition. We summarize studies from different brain areas involved in emotional behavior such as fear, despair, and motivation, and compile findings of respiration-driven activities across species. Furthermore, we discuss the proposed cellular and network mechanisms by which cortical circuits are entrained by respiration. The emerging synthesis from a large body of literature suggests that the impact of respiration on brain function is widespread across the brain and highly relevant for distinct cognitive functions. These intricate links between respiration and cognitive processes call for mechanistic studies of the role of rhythmic breathing as a timing signal for brain activity.

Keywords: embodied cognition; emotion; network; neuronal circuits; neuronal synchronization; oscillations; respiration; slow oscillation.

PMID: 34790100 PMCID: PMC8592085 DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2021.761812