Study Proves that Brain Can Learn to Breathe Better in Sleep Apnea

Finally there is some respite to those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. According to a new research conducted by the scientists from the University of Toronto the brain can learn to breathe effectively, thus overcoming sleep apnea. This study will come as a refreshing change to about 18 million American facing this problem of abnormal breathing during sleep.

The research proved that to solve the problem of airway obstruction, noradrenaline, a chemical, needs to be released by the brain. This chemical assists the brain to learn how to breathe purposefully and effectively. According to Dr. John Peever, an Associate Professor for Neuroscience and the lead author of the study, continuous disruption of the normal lung activity triggers a kind of learning which helps the brain to breathe better. This brain plasticity can help overcome the abnormal breathing pattern characteristic of sleep apnea.

Artificial 15 second apnea was induced in the sedated rats. This disrupted the flow of air into their lungs. The scientists found that repeated apneas made the brain to trigger much more forceful respiratory muscle contraction, leading to an increase in breathing. This increased breathing lasted for about an hour.

The study discovered the chemical responsible for this brain plasticity and enhance the breathing pattern. The findings might suggest that artificial manipulation with the help of drugs can increase the levels of noradrenaline in the brain. This can help the patients of sleep apnea to breathe better. The work can form the basis of developing a pill for sleep apnea.The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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