On the central pattern generator for the basic breathing rhythmicity

J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol. 1983 Dec;55(6):1647-59. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1983.55.6.1647.


Recent advances in several laboratories concerning the respiration-related medullary neurons, their locations, projections, interconnections, morphological and physiological properties, and patterns of inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, excitatory postsynaptic potentials, and discharge rate, on the one hand, and the "systems behavior," on the other, have provided the basis for new hypothesis concerning the neural mechanisms underlying the central pattern generator (CPG) for breathing and its different parts. The onset of the "ramp"-like increase in inspiratory activity is due to an abrupt release of inhibition and a subsequent progressively increasing synaptic excitation of inspiratory premotor neurons. The integration of the excitatory "drive" inputs underlying the ramp inspiratory activity seems to depend on structures in the ventrorostral medulla, including nucleus paragigantocellularis. The termination of this activity by the off-switch mechanisms is actuated when a critical threshold is attained by the excitatory inputs of 1) a slowly increasing inspiration-related activity and 2) the afferent input from the pulmonary stretch receptors. The nature of the former activity is discussed. During the expiratory phase, an inhibitory activity suppresses inspiration-facilitating inputs with a slowly decaying power that controls the expiratory duration. The postinspiration activity, which brakes the rate of exhalation during the first part of the expiratory phase, depends on mechanisms separate from those responsible for the inspiratory ramp activity. The respiratory CPG seems to be organized with considerable amount of redundancy, or "degeneracity."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Consciousness
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*
  • Time Factors