Take a deep breath, and now exhale slowly. This well-known trick is used in yoga classes, and also helps you relieve nervous tension, because most of the time it really works. Your body feels relaxed, and the brain is filled with life-giving oxygen. And only now science has managed to find out why this is happening.
A group of neurons controlling the respiratory rhythm
It turns out that in the human brain there is a small area of neurons that controls the rhythm of breathing. Then the information on the frequency and depth of the respiratory rhythms is transferred to another zone responsible for the state of mind. A research team from Stanford conducted an experiment on laboratory mice. As a result, it was found that rodents with "disabled" by special mutations with neurons became more relaxed and had a lower sense of alertness.
Earlier, in the 90s of the last century, scientists conducted a study that found an area of about 3,000 neurons. This group of nerve fibers is located in the zone called the variolium bridge, which, together with the cerebellum, belongs to the posterior part of the brain. Then, almost three decades ago, it was discovered that our breathing can be related to the state of the soul. This discovery was called the "respiratory pacemaker". Despite the importance of the knowledge obtained, the scientists had no idea how this system is activated.
New attempts to clarify the situation
To clarify the situation, to begin with, scientists from Stanford examined the activity of genes in the brain stem of rodents. Then the detected genes had to be inactivated in order to disconnect the connection between respiration and emotions. As a result, genetically modified rodents actually killed 175 neurons located in the "respiratory pacemaker".
Results of the experiment
The first time after the manipulations were done, the laboratory mice did not show any altered behavior. The team of researchers began to think that they had suffered a deafening defeat. But soon something interesting happened. Mice began to behave quite differently. They became calm and sweet. Instead of the usual occupation - sniffing cages, rodents relaxed and took care of themselves. Also, scientists found a change in breathing, which from the rapid became slow and controlled.
This channel is two-way
This behavior of rodents was very similar to the behavior of relaxing people. Together with the disabled neurons, the laboratory mice lost their ability to be vigilant and panic-stricken (they stopped sniffing the cells). According to scientists, this channel is two-way. Thus, mice with disabled neurons did not receive signals of danger and controlled breathing. In the case of people, this phenomenon works in the opposite direction. You begin to breathe deeply and slowly, and your brain sends the body signals of relaxation. In fact, the respiratory rhythm works as a sedative.