Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

Read more: Northwestern University. (2016, December 6). Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved December 6, 2016 from http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-fear-breathing-5699/

Research Article:  “Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016


Effects of preferred relaxing music after acute stress exposure: A randomized controlled trial

In daily contexts, coping with stressful events involves a great level of personal resources to recover baseline conditions efficiently, a process called stress recovery. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of an intervention based on preferred relaxing music on the recovery after stress exposure. We also analyzed the effect of gender on stress recovery. Fifty-eight undergraduates underwent a paradigm of laboratory-based stress induction and were randomly assigned to either the control or the experimental group. The recovery period included either silent resting (control group) or listening to their preferred music to become relaxed (experimental group) for 15 minutes. Cardiovascular measures and self-reported emotional states were monitored across the stress induction and recovery stages. Participants in the experimental group exhibited higher levels of heart-derived high frequency power, and greater sample entropy in the recovery period. They also showed lower levels of self-reported states of anxiety, depression, and negative affect, as well as greater levels of positive affect. Gender-related differences were also found during recovery for both cardiovascular and selfreported measures. To conclude, interventions based on preferred relaxing music allow promotion of a healthier recovery and improve affective state after acute stress exposure considering differential outcomes according to gender.

Full Article (PDF)  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305735617689953#.WPFLMXYX9yE.wordpress