Sporadic apnea: paradoxical transformation to eupnea by perturbations that inhibit inspiration

Med Hypotheses. 1997 Jul;49(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(97)90246-2.


We speculate that sporadic apneas may be initiated and terminated by stochastic neural perturbations arising within or impinging upon the respiratory oscillator. A curious situation can then arise in which tiny perturbations that inhibit inspiration, paradoxically stimulate breathing. The plausibility of the hypothesis is supported by numerical analysis of a noisy attractor-cycle oscillator, and in studies of a preterm sleeping infant with sporadic apnea; low-level vibratory stimulation transformed the irregular apneic rhythm to eupnea.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Models, Biological
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Vibration / therapeutic use*