From Lung to Brain: Respiration Modulates Neural and Mental Activity

Josh Goheen, John A.E. Anderson, Jianfeng Zhang, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Respiration protocols have been developed to manipulate mental states, including their use for therapeutic purposes. In this systematic review, we discuss evidence that respiration may play a fundamental role in coordinating neural activity, behavior, and emotion. The main findings are: (1) respiration affects the neural activity of a wide variety of regions in the brain; (2) respiration modulates different frequency ranges in the brain’s dynamics; (3) different respiration protocols (spontaneous, hyperventilation, slow or resonance respiration) yield different neural and mental effects; and (4) the effects of respiration on the brain are related to concurrent modulation of biochemical (oxygen delivery, pH) and physiological (cerebral blood flow, heart rate variability) variables. We conclude that respiration may be an integral rhythm of the brain’s neural activity. This provides an intimate connection of respiration with neuro-mental features like emotion. A respiratory-neuro-mental connection holds the promise for a brain-based therapeutic usage of respiration in mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577-1590
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroscience Bulletin
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Heart rate variability
  • Respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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