MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus. We chose to focus on the locus coeruleus because this area and the chemical it produces play intimate roles in both attention and respiration.
The locus coeruleus produces noradrenaline and releases it to the entire brain. This neurotransmitter functions as an all-purpose action system. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can’t focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer. Continue reading