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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2006 Nov-Dec;79(6):1000-9. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

Coupling of the respiratory rhythm in fish with activity in hypobranchial nerves and with heartbeat.

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School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom.


Fish have a central respiratory pattern generator (CRPG) in the brain stem that initiates activity in a series of cranial nerves innervating respiratory muscles. These nerves burst sequentially in the order of their rostrocaudal distribution in the central nervous system. When respiratory drive is high, this activity spreads caudally to occipital and anterior spinal neurons that project via the hypobranchial nerves to stimulate hypaxial muscles, causing active jaw abduction. The CRPG may also recruit the heart. Fish, like mammals, show respiratory components in the intrinsic variability of heart rate (HRV). Cardiorespiratory synchrony in the dogfish is driven by bursting activity in the cardiac branches of the vagus nerve, which emanates from preganglionic neurons in the dorsal vagal motor nucleus. A respiratory component in HRV is difficult to discriminate in other species, requiring the use of power spectral analysis and the subsequent elimination of aliased components.

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