Central control of respiration

A number of cell groups in the reticular formation of the pons and medulla are responsible for the central control of the respiratory cycle:

  • inspiratory center (a.k.a. dorsal respiratory group) - bilateral groups of cells in the region of the nucleus of the tractus solitarius in the dorsum of the medulla which are responsible for the rhythmicity of breathing. Their axons pass down to the contralateral phrenic nerve neurons. 
  • ventral respiratory group - bilateral groups of cells in the region of the nucleus ambiguus in the ventrum of the medulla which influence the anterior abdominal wall and intercostal muscles.
  • pneumotaxic center - situated near the superior cerebellar peduncle, controls the changeover from inspiration to expiration by modifying the activity of the medullary centers. 
  • apneustic center - ill-defined, located in the lower pons, concerned with the duration of the respiratory phases. 
  • cerebral cortexdiencephalon and hypothalamus also exert their influence on respiration, either via the above-mentioned centers or directly onto the anterior horn cells innervating the muscles of respiration. 


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Article information

rID: 57445
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Motor control of respiration

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