Without breathing, the body cannot sustain itself. Breathing helps the body to get oxygen while expelling the carbon dioxide. The respiratory rate in an adult is around 16 to 20 breaths in a minute and this rate is controlled by the brain.
So, which part of the brain can influence the respiratory rate? The rate of respiration is under the control of the respiratory control center located in the brain stem and any damage to this particular area of the brain will have an adverse effect on the respiratory rate and will have the ability to cause respiratory arrest. Head traumas as well as swelling of the brain can lead to increased pressure in the skull and this, in turn, can cause damage to the brain stem where the respiratory control center is situated.
The respiratory rate during the course of the day is influenced by the Medulla Oblongata, located in the brain stem. This rate of breathing usually remains constant during the course of the day. However, when a person does a strenuous activity, like exercise, then the respiratory rate changes. The changes in the rate of respiration occur after the signals reach the brain stem. While the respiratory control center is the primary source for controlling the respiration rate, there are several other factors that come into play when the rate increases during exercise or any other strenuous activity. Even the mere thought of doing exercise or a strenuous activity can alter the rate of respiration. This occurs when the signals are to the control center and hence, there is a small increase in the respiratory rate.
While signals are sent to the control center by the higher brain, it is ultimately the respiratory control center located in the Medulla Oblongata that is responsible for influencing the respiratory rate.
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