Respiratory Modulations of Sensory and Cognitive Processes

Recent Approaches to Bodily Rhythms

Online Symposium

Friday, December 9, 2022

Organized Alessandro Tavano and Anton Zickler, MPIEA.

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (CET): presentations and discussion, open for online registration

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (CET): closed session


While the neuronal processing of external sensory signals has received the greater share of attention and progression in the past, recent findings highlight the significance of interoceptive signal processing and motivate their further study. In particular, rhythmic physiological processes, such as respiration, have been shown to exhibit modulatory functionalities on sensory and cognitive processes. The symposium "Respiratory modulations of sensory and cognitive processes" aims to promote this promising field of research by mediating specific aspects of our current understanding to a broader audience and aid in its further development through focused exchange. 
In an open session, researchers in the field are going to present key insights of their recent work to both their peers and an open audience, showcasing their specific research and the significance of the general topic at hand.

The subsequent closed session will allow for the presenters to discuss among themselves technical matters, particular challenges, open questions and potential future work in more detail, combining experiences to enhance the collective understanding and techniques regarding the study of respiratory modulations, ultimately advancing this field of research at large.

Presentation topics and speakers
(9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

Daniel Kluger: (Non-)rhythmic respiratory coupling in human brain function

Animal studies have convincingly demonstrated that respiration cyclically modulates neural activity across brain areas. To what extent this generalises to humans in a way that is relevant for behaviour is less clear, as are the potential mechanisms underlying these modulation effects. In a series of MEG studies, we aimed to localise and characterise breathing-related changes of neural activity across the human brain. By investigating body-brain interactions in different contexts, we hope to further our understanding of respiration as a rhythmic modulator of brain activity as well as the anatomical and functional organisation underneath.

Miriam Nokia: Optimizing learning - synchrony of the brain and body as a tool?

Oscillatory brain activity regulates complex cognition and is coupled with rhythmic bodily functions, such as the cardiac cycle and breathing. However, it is unclear how this synchrony regulates the basic processes of neural plasticity. I will present our recent findings on how associative motor learning is affected by the phase of respiration and cardiac cycle.

Ignacio Rebollo: Brain-stomach coupling: anatomy, functions, and future avenues of research

The analysis of respiratory signals share common methodological challenges with the analysis of gastric signals. In my talk, I will present the most common non-invasive method for acquisition of gastric signals, the electorgastrogram, as well as current preprocessing and analysis practices. I will then present in  detail two related articles where we analyzed one-to-one coupling between resting state fmri and the activity from the stomach using phase locking value, focusing on the methods and future outlook.

Finn Upham: Respiratory phase alignment in music audiences

Music can produce exceptional coordination of listeners’ respiratory sequences, prompting many to breathe in or out at specific moments. While most easily spotted in individuals’ idiosynchratic breathing patterns to familiar music recordings, moments of coordination also arise across audience members attending live performances of concert music. This talk introduces a method to identify exceptional respiratory phase alignment across groups and presents a few likely mechanisms for the phenomenon with examples from two concert experiments.

Christian Keitel: Coupling of arousal and respiratory dynamics at rest

Arousal neuromodulation influences cortical activity wide and far - but what makes arousal "tick"? Brainstem circuitry suggests that respiratory dynamics may influence arousal. Evidence for a link in human pupil-based arousal measures and respiration, however, has remained elusive and equivocal so far. Here, analyses of combined resting-state recordings allow us to present new findings on the co-variation of periodic and aperiodic aspects of pupil-linked arousal and respiratory dynamics.

You can register for online participation in the public part (9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) via Webex under this link.

For any questions, please contact Anton Zickler,