Coordination between rib cage muscles and diaphragm during quiet breathing in humans

J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1984 Sep;57(3):899-906. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1984.57.3.899.


The pattern of activation of the scalenes and the parasternal intercostal muscles was studied in relation to the pattern of rib cage and abdominal motion during various respiratory maneuvers in the tidal volume range in five normal humans. Electromyograms (EMG) of the scalenes and parasternal intercostals were recorded with bipolar needle electrodes, and changes in abdominal and rib cage displacement were measured using linearized magnetometers. The scalenes and parasternal intercostals were always active during quiet breathing, and their pattern of activation was identical; in both muscles the EMG activity usually started together with the beginning of inspiration, increased in intensity as inspiration proceeded, and persisted into the early part of expiration. In addition, like the parasternal activity the scalene inspiratory activity persisted until the tidal volume was trivial, increased during tidal inspirations performed with the rib cage alone, and was nearly abolished during diaphragmatic isovolume maneuvers. However, attempts to perform tidal inspiration with the diaphragm alone, while causing an increase in parasternal EMG activity, were associated with a marked reduction or a suppression of scalene EMG activity and a reduced substantially distorted rib cage expansion. In particular, the upper rib cage was then moving paradoxically.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Adult
  • Diaphragm / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Intercostal Muscles / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Posture
  • Respiration*
  • Ribs / physiology
  • Tidal Volume