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Understanding The Pre-Botzinger Complex And The Calming Effects Of Meditation [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 01, 2017 08:54 AM EDT

The calming effects of meditation have been attributed to slow and deep breathing. Now, a team of neuroscientists from Stanford University and UCLA have found that a subgroup of neurons in the pre-Botzinger complex links breathing to various states of calm and excitement.

The pre-Botzinger complex is a cluster of neurons found in the brain of mice and humans that paces breathing. It is attributed to different kinds of breaths like yawning, sighing, gasping or just regular breathing.

The scientists then silenced a subset of the neurons in the pre-Botzinger complex that caused the mice to just sit and groom themselves when they were transferred to a new environment. Because the mice did not exhibit the usual excited sniffing and behavior in the novel environment, the scientists were convinced this was the set that controlled calm and excitement, the Forbes reported.

The researchers also found out that the subset of neurons was connected to locus coeruleus, an area in the brain stem that modulated emotion and arousal, the Scientific American reported. These findings in mice were similar to the results of studies on the connection of breathing and meditation.

A different study from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research discovered that the calming effects of meditation can be attributed to slow breathing patterns as seen in long-term practitioners of yoga. They believe that actively manipulating breathing can effectively control that area of the brain that triggers arousal or excitement.

The researchers hope that further studies and understanding in these areas of the brain can lead to the development of therapies for depression and other negative emotions.

The complex does exist in both mice and humans but more research is needed in how they function in humans. So for now, humans have to rely on the calming effects of meditation to relieve stress.

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