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The bulbar respiratory centre in the rabbit

I. Changes of respiratory parameters caused by intermittent electrical bulbar stimulation during inspiration or expiration


In anesthetized rabbits, spirogram and diaphragmatic activity were examined during electrical stimulation of regions of the medulla oblongata. The stimulating volleys were triggered by the phase transitions of the animal's own respiration.

  1. 1.

    Each earlyinspiratory volley of 120 ms duration at 100 pulses per second caused an immediate and transient inhibition of the diaphragmatic activity. Respiration was slowed down due to prolongation of inspiration. The tidal volume increased above control. Stimuli delivered after 30–40% of a control inspiration had elapsed cut short this phase and entailed a shortening of the following expiration, too. Respiration was thus accelerated.

  2. 2.

    Each earlyexpiratory volley caused an inspiratory twitch after a short latency. The respiratory rate was slightly increased due to shortening of expiration. The spirogram exhibited a distinct inspiratory effect (elevation of the end-inspiratory and end-expiratory levels). Stimuli delivered after 60–70% of a control expiration had elapsed slowed down respiration due to prolongation of inspiration but did not alter the end-expiratory level. The expiration remained almost unaltered. The effects were still observed while an artificial state of lung distension or collapse was maintained.

  3. 3.

    Volleys ofincreasing duration were delivered, starting withonset of expiration. The initial respiratory acceleration (shortening of both phases) and elevation of the end-expiratory level, observed when short volleys were applied, changed into slowing down of respiration (prolongation of both phases) and a shift of the end-expiratory level towards active expirations when the duration of the volley was somewhat longer than a normal expiration. The end-inspiratory level remained slightly elevated.

Results suggest that during inspiration a progressively increasing inhibitory state is built up. During expiration, both an increasing inspiratory and an expiratory tendency are present as revealed by mixed inexpiratory stimulation effects.

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Fallert, M., Maneck, G. & Wellner, U. The bulbar respiratory centre in the rabbit. Pflugers Arch. 364, 257–268 (1976).

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Key words

  • Bulbar stimulation
  • Respiratory centre
  • Respiratory phases