The respiratory control mechanisms in the brainstem and spinal cord: integrative views of the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology

J Physiol Sci. 2017 Jan;67(1):45-62. doi: 10.1007/s12576-016-0475-y. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


Respiratory activities are produced by medullary respiratory rhythm generators and are modulated from various sites in the lower brainstem, and which are then output as motor activities through premotor efferent networks in the brainstem and spinal cord. Over the past few decades, new knowledge has been accumulated on the anatomical and physiological mechanisms underlying the generation and regulation of respiratory rhythm. In this review, we focus on the recent findings and attempt to elucidate the anatomical and functional mechanisms underlying respiratory control in the lower brainstem and spinal cord.

Keywords: Medulla; Parafacial respiratory group (pFRG); Pons; Pre-Bötzinger complex (preBötC); Respiratory rhythm; Spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Center / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*