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Our breath influences our neural activity, which in turn, impacts our cognitive functions including attention, memory recall, and emotional processing. Credit: Neuroscience News

Inhale, Exhale, Remember: Uncovering the Breath-Memory Connection

Summary: Intricate links between breathing and memory recall have been unraveled by recent scientific research, painting a more complex picture of our cognitive processes.

Studies reveal that the rhythm of our breathing can influence neural activity, impacting cognitive functions such as emotional processing and memory recall.

The most compelling evidence highlights that inhalation, particularly through the nose, can improve memory function. As this field of study emerges, these insights could lead to novel therapeutic approaches for cognitive decline and memory-related conditions.

Key Facts:

  1. The rhythm of our breathing creates electrical activity in the brain, enhancing emotional judgment and memory recall, with this effect being most pronounced during inhalation through the nose.
  2. The amygdala and hippocampus, brain areas linked to emotion and memory, are significantly affected by the rhythm of breathing, suggesting that the act of breathing can modulate the functions of these regions.
  3. Deep, controlled breathing, often used in mindfulness practices, can improve working memory capacity, the kind of memory we use to hold and manipulate information over short periods.

Source: Neuroscience News

Breathing: it’s an automatic process we often don’t give a second thought. Yet recent scientific discoveries have begun to shed light on a fascinating relationship between breathing and memory function.

Our breath influences our neural activity, which in turn, impacts our cognitive functions including attention, memory recall, and emotional processing.

The rhythm of our breathing creates electrical activity in the brain that contributes to the enhancement of emotional judgments and memory recall.

In fact, a study led by Christina Zelano at Northwestern University demonstrated that the act of breathing, specifically through the nose, can have a direct impact on cognitive functions such as memory recall.

Credit: Neuroscience News

Zelano’s research team carried out a series of experiments involving human subjects and found that memory recall was significantly better during inhalation compared to exhalation. This effect was most pronounced when the subjects were breathing through their noses.

The study showed that the rhythm of breathing can induce changes in the brain, enhancing the emotional judgment and improving memory recall.

Furthermore, the amygdala and the hippocampus, two brain regions linked to emotion, memory function, and smell, are significantly affected by the breathing rhythm.

These areas of the brain are part of the limbic system, which controls emotions and memory. It’s thought that the act of breathing may modulate the functions of these brain regions, thereby influencing memory and emotional processing.

Moreover, the act of controlled, deep breathing, often utilized in mindfulness and meditation practices, has been shown to enhance memory recall.

A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology showed that mindfulness-based attention, which involves focusing on one’s breathing, increases the ability to maintain visuospatial information over short periods.

This suggests that deep, controlled breathing can improve working memory capacity, the kind of memory we use to hold and manipulate information in our minds over short periods.

While the relationship between breathing and memory remains an emerging field, these findings suggest exciting possibilities for future research and potential therapeutic applications.

Understanding the impact of breathing on memory could have implications for interventions related to cognitive decline, stress, anxiety, and conditions such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.

In conclusion, it seems that the simple act of breathing, often taken for granted, can play a significant role in our cognitive functions, specifically memory recall.

So next time you’re struggling to remember something, take a moment, take a deep breath, and see if it helps. It appears our breath holds more power over our brains than we might think.

About this neuroscience and memory research news

Author: Neuroscience News Communications
Source: Neuroscience News
Contact: Neuroscience News Communications – Neuroscience News
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News


Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano et al. Journal of Neuroscience

Mindfulness, Movement Control, and Attentional Focus Strategies: Effects of Mindfulness on a Postural Balance Task” by Kee et al. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Respiration modulates olfactory memory consolidation in humans” by Artin Arshamian, Behzad Iravani, Asifa Majid and Johan N. Lundström in Journal of Neuroscience

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  1. I hope that we learn there are various breathing techniques and exercise that enhance cognition. And today Neuroscience News had a piece unveiling a cognitive booster in a laxative, Prucalopride given in a low dose daily X 6 days
    The new study showed enhanced memory and cognition. Hoping I can benefit from these potential cognitive boosters. To discuss with my neurologist…….

  2. I have MS (and had it for 23 years) and now struggle with cognitive fog and gaps in memory. Is there a research project I can join to help others in the future?

  3. Among many, there are two factors to consider. One factor is that nose breathing, in particular, inhibits neuronal activity at the hindbrain. The inhibition at the hindbrain may be reducing the arousal and the resulting interferences from other interoceptive and exteroceptive sources. The second factor is the inhalation itself. Could it be that bringing in air is a receptive activity- in addition to the oxygenation (21%), nitrogen (78%), carbon dioxide (.04%), “accepting” – retaining information? That is opposed to exhalation, an expulsion, avoidance or rejecting activity involving ‘nitrogen (78%) oxygen (17%) carbon dioxide (4%) other gases (1%). The result could simply be related to the difference in oxygen between inhaling and exhaling, which is 4%. On the other hand, by breathing out attention improves!

  4. Hello,
    Myself Dattatraya D .Kulkarni ,retired as research officer having published research on effect of yoga practices on human information , attention function and memory function among yoga practitioners. I wish to work on related research projects and to share my research expertise.

  5. Is there a system or habits found to improve breathing to enhance memory ?
    Thanks in advance!
    I have MS which has greatly affected my cognition including poor memory.

    suggestions are appreciated,


  6. Other than breathing through the nose will recall what I’m forgettubg, /can you send the article if it has more advice than just to breathe.

    Holding my breath waiting for your response. …. Bill

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