Respiration aligns perception with neural excitability
Recent studies from the field of interoception have highlighted the link between bodily and neural rhythms during action, perception, and cognition. The mechanisms underlying functional body-brain coupling, however, are poorly understood, as are the ways in which they modulate behaviour. We acquired respiration and human magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from a near-threshold spatial detection task to investigate the trivariate relationship between respiration, neural excitability, and performance. Respiration was found to significantly modulate perceptual sensitivity as well as posterior alpha power (8 - 13 Hz), a well-established proxy of cortical excitability. In turn, alpha suppression prior to detected vs undetected targets underscored the behavioural benefits of heightened excitability. Notably, respiration-locked excitability changes were maximised at a respiration phase lag of around -30° and thus temporally preceded performance changes. In line with interoceptive inference accounts, these results suggest that respiration actively aligns sampling of sensory information with transient cycles of heightened excitability to facilitate performance.
The anonymised data supporting the findings of this study are openly available from on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/ajuzh/).
Article and author information
Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research, University of Münster (Gro3/001/19)
- Joachim Gross
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GR2024/5-1)
- Joachim Gross
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (BU2400/9-1)
- Niko A Busch
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All participants gave written informed consent prior to all experimental procedures. The study was approved by the local ethics committee of the University of Muenster (approval ID 2018-068-f-S) and complied with the Declaration of Helsinki.
- Jonas Obleser, University of Lübeck, Germany
- Preprint posted: March 25, 2021 (view preprint)
- Received: June 2, 2021
- Accepted: December 13, 2021
- Accepted Manuscript published: December 14, 2021 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: January 17, 2022 (version 2)
© 2021, Kluger et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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