Using animal and human brain imaging studies, researchers have revealed how the act of breathing can shape the brain.
A study led by Aarhus University, Denmark, analysed more than a dozen studies of rodents, monkeys and humans to devise a computational model that explains how the rhythms of the brain and breathing are linked.
The team found that the brain seems to be more sensitive to the environment when breathing in, and ‘tunes out’ more when breathing out.
Understanding the effect of breathing rhythms on the brain, including on mood and behaviour, may also help to shed light on certain mental health conditions.
Professor Micah Allen at Aarhus said: “Difficulty breathing is associated with a very large increase in the risk for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. We know that respiration, respiratory illness, and psychiatric disorders are closely linked.”