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Another Neural Circuit that Controls Breathing Found

This third excitatory network helps to regulate postinspiration.

Catherine Offord
Catherine Offord

Catherine is a senior editor at The Scientist.

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© SHRADDHA NAYAK

THREE-PART RHYTHM

There are three stages to mammalian breathing: inspiration, passive expiration (postinspiration), and active expiration—a conditional phase used during labored breathing. Inspiration and active expiration have been linked to rhythm-generating excitatory neural circuits in the medulla: the pre-Bötzinger complex and the lateral parafacial region, respectively. A recent study has revealed a third excitatory network—the postinspiratory complex (PiCo)—that drives postinspiration, suggesting that the coordination of breathing may rely on alternating inhibitory interactions between three networks.

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