Critical roles for breathing in the genesis and modulation of emotional states

Author: Ikuo Homma1, Anthony G Phillips2
1 Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:
2 Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Handb Clin Neurol
Date published: 2022 Aug 15
Other: Volume ID: 188 , Pages: 151-178 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-91534-2.00011-4. , Word Count: 228

Breathing can be classified into metabolic and behavioral categories. Metabolic breathing and voluntary behavioral breathing are controlled in the brainstem and in the cerebral motor cortex, respectively. This chapter places special emphasis on the reciprocal influences between breathing and emotional processes. As is the case with neural control of breathing, emotions are generated by multiple control networks, located primarily in the forebrain. For several decades, a respiratory rhythm generator has been investigated in the limbic system. The amygdala receives respiratory-related input from the piriform cortex. Excitatory recurrent branches are located in the piriform cortex and have tight reciprocal synaptic connections, which produce periodic oscillations, similar to those recorded in the hippocampus during slow-wave sleep. The relationship between olfactory breathing rhythm and emotion is seen as the gateway to interpreting the relationship between breathing and emotion. In this chapter, we describe roles of breathing in the genesis of emotion, neural structures common to breathing and emotion, and mutual importance of breathing and emotion. We also describe the central roles of conscious awareness and voluntary control of breathing, as effective methods for stabilizing attention and the contents in the stream of consciousness. Voluntary control of breathing is seen as an essential practice for achieving emotional well-being.

Keywords: Amygdala; Anxiety; Behavioral breathing; Brainstem; Emotional breathing; Limbic system; Metabolic breathing; Piriform cortex; Respiratory rhythm.

PMID: 35965025 DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-323-91534-2.00011-4