4. Researchers discover area of brain that controls breathing
Neuroscientists at Seattle Children’s Research Institute have discovered an area of the brain that plays a key role in breathing.
In a study published in the journal Nature the researchers describe the newly identified area of the brain, which they found plays a key role in exhalation. “Inhealthy people, breathing is something we do whether or not we consciously think about it and we call that passive expiration,” said Dr. Nino Ramirez, Director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “This paper describes a part of the brain responsible for passive expiration, which is important for swallowing, speaking, coughing, sighing and any other function in which your lungs expel air.” The researchers called this region of the brain the postinspiratory complex, or PiCo. Further study and understanding of how this region of the brain works could lead to the development of new treatments for certain neurodegenerative diseases that involve breathing abnormalities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day. In a healthy person, each of those breaths happens in a carefully orchestrated order. If that precise rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to complications.