Standard Article

Coordination of Breathing with Nonrespiratory Activities

  1. Donald Bartlett Jr,
  2. James C. Leiter

Published Online: 1 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c110004

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Bartlett, D. and Leiter, J. C. 2012. Coordination of Breathing with Nonrespiratory Activities. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:1387–1415.

Author Information

  1. Department of Physiology & Neurobiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2012


Many articles in this section of Comprehensive Physiology are concerned with the development and function of a central pattern generator (CPG) for the control of breathing in vertebrate animals. The action of the respiratory CPG is extensively modified by cortical and other descending influences as well as by feedback from peripheral sensory systems. The central nervous system also incorporates other CPGs, which orchestrate a wide variety of discrete and repetitive, voluntary and involuntary movements. The coordination of breathing with these other activities requires interaction and coordination between the respiratory CPG and those governing the nonrespiratory activities. Most of these interactions are complex and poorly understood. They seem to involve both conventional synaptic crosstalk between groups of neurons and fluid identity of neurons as belonging to one CPG or another: neurons that normally participate in breathing may be temporarily borrowed or hijacked by a competing or interrupting activity. This review explores the control of breathing as it is influenced by many activities that are generally considered to be nonrespiratory. The mechanistic detail varies greatly among topics, reflecting the wide variety of pertinent experiments. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:1387-1415, 2012.