Synchronized Serenity

Fight, flight, freeze and… breathe?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on science.

Meditation and yoga are known to help with fear, anxiety, and panic attacks. Why is breathing so tightly connected to our emotions?

At the University of Pennsylvania, Minghong Ma is hoping to find out. She studies brainwaves – the natural electrical activity required for our brains to send signals throughout the body.

Ma measured brainwave activity by placing brain implants in mice. She recorded these signals before, during, and after frightening the mice.

Her initial studies showed that the emotional and learning brain regions synchronized to produce FREEZING behavior. That means that the brain helps coordinate freezing behaviors during a fear state.

Then Ma blocked one of the nostrils of her mice subjects. With one blocked nostril, mice spent a longer time in frozen mode. Surprisingly, their brainwaves ALSO stopped being perfectly synchronized!

These results provide physical evidence that connects BREATHING PATTERNS to BRAIN REGIONS that control MOOD and EMOTION…at least, in mice.

Maybe for us too! Either way…there’s always chocolate!