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The Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition

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Abstract

Ultradian rhythms of alternating cerebral dominance have been demonstrated in humans and other mammals during waking and sleep. Human studies have used the methods of psychological testing and electroencephalography (EEG) as measurements to identify the phase of this natural endogenous rhythm. The periodicity of this rhythm approximates 1.5-3 hours in awake humans. This cerebral rhythm is tightly coupled to another ultradian rhythm known as the nasal cycle, which is regulated by the autonomic nervous system, and is exhibited by greater airflow in one nostril, later switching to the other side. This paper correlates uninostril airflow with varying ratios of verbal/spatial performance in 23 right-handed males. Relatively greater cognitive ability in one hemisphere corresponds to unilateral forced nostril breathing in the contralateral nostril. Cognitive performance ratios can be influenced by forcibly altering the breathing pattern.
... During EEG measurements, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) was noticed and correlated with left and right hemisphere brain activity [22]. It is suggested one can selectively activate a hemisphere depending on which functions are mostly needed at a certain point in time [4,23]. ...
... For example, participants perform beter in cognitive tasks that require rational and logical thinking, where tasks associated with the left hemisphere, the right nostril dominance is found. During the left nostril dominance, they perform beter in spatial tasks, associated with the right hemisphere [23]. ...
... In Yoga, it is claimed that alternative breathing balances the mental activity of the left and right parts of the brain. In modern experimental medicine, alternative breathing applied to volunteers and patients with certain neurological diseases (in particular to patients with epilepsy) leads to specific changes in the EEG activity of the opposite hemispheres of the brain [22]. This is partially confirmed by observations of the teachings of Yoga. ...
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Introduction: The registration of respiration through the left and right nostrils simultaneously makes it possible to register the dynamics of the nasal cycle. Aim: To test the method, the nasal cycle of a patient with ischemic stroke of the right posterior cerebral artery territory was measured. Method: An interface two-channel portable system has been developed for registration of respiration separately through nostrils. Results: The patient's respiratory and nasal cycle through the left and right nostril was measured for 4.5 hours for three consecutive days (4 days after coming out of the coma). The nasal cycle changed progressively during the healing process. On the first day, an antiphase change in the amplitude of airflow through the left and right nostril was registered with frequency 3 and 1.5 hours. They were accompanied by pronounced somnolence. In the next two days, a nasal cycle reversal of the respiratory airflow through the nostrils was observed. In the process of the patient’s recovery, a spontaneous alternative alternation of equalized respiratory airflow through the two nostrils was observed. The patient's recovery was also assessed on the NIHSS scale, whose values correlated over time with the normalization of the nasal cycle. Conclusion: The method reflects the patient's recovery and can find application in neurology.
... Although the influence of diverse breathing techniques on cognition has been considered in previous research (Gothe et al., 2013;Shannahoff-Khalsa et al., 1991;Yadav & Mutha, 2016), the influence of slow-paced breathing on executive functioning has received little attention to date. So far, the focus has been on inhibition (Laborde, Lentes, et al., 2019;Prinsloo et al., 2011), working memory (Bonomini et al., 2020;Prinsloo et al., 2011), cognitive flexibility (Bonomini et al., 2020), and decision making (De Couck et al., 2019). ...
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The aim of this experiment was to test the immediate effects of slow-paced breathing on executive function. Slow-paced breathing is suggested to increase cardiac vagal activity, and the neurovisceral integration model predicts that higher cardiac vagal activity leads to better executive functioning. In total, 78 participants (41 men, 37 women; M age = 23.22 years) took part in two counterbalanced experimental conditions: a 3 × 5 min slow-paced breathing condition and a television viewing control condition. After each condition, heart rate variability was measured and participants performed three executive function tasks: the color-word match Stroop (inhibition), the automated operation span task (working memory), and the modified card sorting task (cognitive flexibility). Results showed that performance on executive function tasks was better after slow-paced breathing compared to control, with higher scores observed for Stroop interference accuracy, automated operation span score, and perseverative errors, but not Stroop interference reaction times. This difference in executive function between experimental conditions was not mediated by cardiac vagal activity. Therefore, findings only partially align with predictions of the neurovisceral integration model. Slow-paced breathing appears a promising technique to improve immediate executive function performance. Further studies are recommended that address possible alternative underlying mechanisms and long-term effects.
... verbal performance has also been reported (88)(89) . ...
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Background: The nasal cycle is the spontaneous, reciprocal congestion and decongestion of the nasal mucosa during the day and it is present in almost 70-80% of healthy adults. The German physician Richard Kayser first described it in 1895. Since then, the number of papers focused on this fascinating issue has continued to flourish. Main body: Even though there are a high number of publications on this topic, the understanding of nasal cycle is still very poor. The present review tries to offer a comprehensive analysis of this issue investigating all the physiologic and pathologic conditions able to modify the nasal cycle. A section of methods used for its evaluation has been also included in this review. Conclusion: The influence of the nasal cycle on nasal airflow must be considered during any rhinologic evaluation, especially if investigating the need for septal/turbinates surgery, rather than nasal medical therapy alone. The nasal cycle is a normal phenomenon and must be recognized in order to differentiate it from the pathologic causes of nasal obstruction. Key words: nasal cycle, nasal patency, nasal airflow, nasal mucosa, pattern, congestion, decongestion
Chapter
The aim of yoga is to attain a mental state free from disturbance. Various yoga techniques have been prescribed for this in traditional yoga texts. The ancient yoga masters realized there was a close association between the functioning of the breath and the mind. Voluntarily regulated yoga breathing (pranayama) involves regulating various aspects of breathing of breathing: (i) breathing through one or both nostrils (ii) increasing the depth of breathing (iii) breathing with a period of breath holding (iv) exhaling with the production of a sound (v) breathing through the mouth and (vi) increasing the rate of breathing. The present chapter discusses these yoga breathing techniques. This chapter also discusses the psychophysiological effects of yoga regulated breathing based on the findings of scientific studies on the psychophysiology of yoga regulated breathing.
Chapter
Although self-knowledge and behavior training have been substantial parts of Yoga for many centuries, neuroscience approach towards the effects of Yoga on cognition and brain functioning/structure is a pretty new field of research. As technology advances, new technical support is gained to investigate long ago experienced traditional Yoga practices. To the extent Yoga gains more supporters all over the world, growing interest arises from many laboratories and research centers in unraveling the “mysteries” surrounding its techniques, making this way a bridge between tradition and science.
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This article charts the history of deep brain stimulation (DBS) as applied to alleviate a number of neurological disorders, while in parallel mapping the electrophysiological circuits involved in generating and integrating neural signals driving the cardiorespiratory system during exercise. With the advent of improved neuroimaging techniques, neurosurgeons can place small electrodes into deep brain structures with a high degree accuracy to treat a number of neurological disorders, such as movement impairment associated with Parkinson’s disease and neuropathic pain. As well as stimulating discrete nuclei and monitoring autonomic outflow, local field potentials can also assess how the neurocircuitry responds to exercise. This technique has provided an opportunity to validate in humans putative circuits previously identified in animal models. The central autonomic network consists of multiple sites from the spinal cord to the cortex involved in autonomic control. Important areas exist at multiple evolutionary levels, which include the anterior cingulate cortex (telencephalon), hypothalamus (diencephalon), periaqueductal grey (midbrain), parabrachial nucleus and nucleus of the tractus solitaries (brainstem), and the intermediolateral column of the spinal cord. These areas receive afferent input from all over the body and provide a site for integration, resulting in a coordinated efferent autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) response. In particular, emerging evidence from DBS studies have identified the basal ganglia as a major sub-cortical cognitive integrator of both higher center and peripheral afferent feedback. These circuits in the basal ganglia appear to be central in coupling movement to the cardiorespiratory motor program.
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The Svara- Yoga concept of ida-, pingala- andsushumna-svara—representing rest, active,and turbulent states—was examined in this study by recording nostril dominance (svara) and bilateral volar GSR (galvanic skin resistance) as an indicator of sympathetic activity under field and laboratory conditions. Sympathetic activity was low in the ida-svara (left nostril dominance) group,higher in the pingala-svara (right nostril dominance)group, and was maximum in the sushumna-svara(undecided nostril dominance) group of subiects under both field and laboratory conditions. This finding agreed with the traditional Svara-Yoga descriptions. The volar GSR on the right side more readily varied with the svara than the left volar GSR, particularly in the physically relaxed subjects under laboratory conditions. The latter observation was worth noting because the subjects were right-handed. The right side could be recommended as the standard site for recording volar GSR to closely reflect the sympathetic activity,particularly so when subjects were given the opportunity for physical rest.
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Malleability of executive control and its enhancement through yoga training is unclear. In Study 1, participants (yoga group; n = 27, mean = 23.27 years) were tested on executive control tasks pre and post 8 weeks of yoga training. The training focused on attention to postural control during yoga asanas and respiratory control during pranayama-breathing (30 min each of postural and breath-control training, biweekly). Yoga training was assessed via performance ratings as to how well a posture was executed and by examining errors that reflected inattention/failures in postural and breath control. We also explored whether attentional demands on motor and respiratory control were associated with three components of executive control (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition) during nine executive control tasks. Partial correlation results revealed that the three components of executive control might be differentially impacted by postural and breath control, and selectively associated with either speed or accuracy (except for cognitive flexibility). Attentional demands influenced the link between postural, breath, and cognitive control. In Study 2, comparisons between a yoga group and a gender-matched control group (control group; n = 27, mean = 23.33 years) pointed towards higher working memory accuracy and a better speed-accuracy tradeoff in inhibitory control in the yoga group. A ceiling-practice effect was addressed by examining yoga practice learning (i.e., practice-induced change in postural and breath control reflected in ratings and errors) on executive control performance across two sets of tasks: repeatedly tested (pre and post-8 weeks) and non-repeatedly tested (post-8 weeks). Attention to motor and respiratory control during yoga might be considered as a potential mechanism through which specific components of executive control in young adults might be enhanced potentially via altering of speed-accuracy tradeoff.