Keep the breath in mind: Respiratory interoception in the developing brain

Breathing grounds the individual in the current sensory experience, which is the essence of a minimal self. Despite being a vital motor task that is performed on average 20 000 times a day, it is surprising that little is known about how breathing modulates neural and sensorimotor processes.

Emerging evidence in research with adults showed that neural oscillations entrain to respiration, and respiration modulates cognitive and affective functions. However, it is entirely unknown how these interactions work in the developing brain.

In this project, we will investigateĀ  how breathing alters neural and sensorimotor processes and how active modulation of the breath elicits short-term and long-term changes in the developing brain. With an interdisciplinary developmental approach combining cutting-edge neuroscientific methods with robotics simulations, we will provide a mechanistic explanation on how sense of self, operationalized through respiratory interoceptive sensitivity, continues to develop in early years of life. We expect our interdisciplinary project to generate groundbreaking insights into brain-body interactions in development.

Dr. Ezgi Kayhan