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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2004 Nov 15;143(2-3):307-19.

Modeling the ponto-medullary respiratory network.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The generation and shaping of the respiratory motor pattern are performed in the lower brainstem and involve neuronal interactions within the medulla and between the medulla and pons. A computational model of the ponto-medullary respiratory network has been developed by incorporating existing experimental data on the medullary neural circuits and possible interactions between the medulla and pons. The model reproduces a number of experimental findings concerning alterations of the respiratory pattern following various perturbations/stimulations applied to the pons and pulmonary afferents. The results of modeling support the concept that eupneic respiratory rhythm generation requires contribution of the pons whereas a gasping-like rhythm (and the rhythm observed in vitro) may be generated within the medulla and involve pacemaker-driven mechanisms localized within the medullary pre-Botzinger Complex. The model and experimental data described support the concept that during eupnea the respiration-related pontine structures control the medullary network mechanisms for respiratory phase transitions, suppress the intrinsic pacemaker-driven oscillations in the pre-BotC and provide inspiration-inhibitory and expiration-facilitatory reflexes which are independent of the pulmonary Hering-Breuer reflex but operate through the same medullary phase switching circuits.

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