Variability of Breathing Pattern

  • M. J. Tobin
  • K. L. Yang
  • M. J. Mador
Conference paper


When studying the performance of any control system, it is important to know not only the mean response of the system but also the constancy with which that response is maintained. Research into the control of breathing, however, has been largely confined to analysis of the mean response to an experimental intervention, and little or no attention has been paid to the “tightness” of the response. In the recent edition of the Handbook of Physiology, Cherniack et al. [1] state that “the normal variability of breathing has been studied by only a few investigators”; moreover, studies of the variability of breathing pattern in patients with disease states are almost nonexistent. Investigation of the variability or constancy of the respiratory control system over prolonged periods is now feasible since breathing can be recorded in a nonobtrusive manner using devices that record motion of the rib cage and abdomen which, in turn, can be calibrated to provide a measure of tidal volume [2, 3], and by employing breathing pattern analysis [4–6]. Respiratory drive can be assessed on a breath-by-breath basis by calculating mean inspiratory flow (V T/T I) [4, 7]. In addition, the timing function of the control system can be assessed by measuring respiratory frequency and fractional inspiratory time (I I/TTOT). This is important since repiratory center timing differs from respiratory drive in its response to certain stimuli [8, 9].


Tidal Volume Breathing Pattern Inspiratory Flow Respiratory Frequency Respiratory Drive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cherniack NS, Longobardo GS (1986) Abnormalities in respiratory rhythm. In: Handbook of physiology, Sect 3, vol 2, Part 2. The respiratory system. Control of breathing. American Physiological Society, Bethesda, MD, chapter 22, pp 729–749Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tobin MJ (1986) Noninvasive evaluation of respiratory movement. In: Nochomovitz ML, Cherniack NS (eds) Noninvasive respiratory monitoring. Churchill-Livingstone, New York, pp 29–57Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Perez W, Tobin MJ (1985) Separation of the factors responsible for the alteration in breathing pattern induced by a mouthpiece and moseclips. J Appl Physiol 59: 1515–1520PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Milic-Emili J (1982) Recent advances in clinical assessment of control of breathing. Lung 160: 1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tobin MJ, Chadha TS, Jenouri G et al. (1983) Breathing patterns. 1. Normal subjects. Chest 84: 202–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tobin MJ, Chadha TS, Jenouri G et al. (1983) Breathing patterns. 2. Diseased subjects. Chest 84: 286–294PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lind FG, Truve AB, Lindborg BPO (1984) Microcomputer-assisted on-line measurement of breathing pattern and occlusion pressure. J Appl Physiol 56: 235–239PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gautier H (1976) Pattern of breathing during hypoxia or hypercapnia of the awake or anesthetized cat. Respir Physiol 27: 193–206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tobin MJ, Perez, W, Guenther SM et al. (1986) Breathing pattern and metabolic behavior during anticipation of exercise. J Appl Physiol 60: 1306–1312PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tobin MJ, Mador MJ, Guenther SM et al. (1988) Variability of resting respiratory drive and timing in healthy subjects. J Appl Physiol 65: 306–317Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sahn SA, Zwillich CW, Dick N, McCullough RE, Lakshminarayan S, Weil JV (1977) Variability of ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia. J Appl Physiol 43: 1019–1025PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Newsom-Davis J, Plum F (1972) Separation of descending spinal pathways to respiratory motoneurons. Exp Neurol 34: 78–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Phillipson EA, McClean PA, Sullivan CE, Zamel N (1978) Interaction of metabolic and behavioral respiratory control during hypercapnia and speech. Am Rev Respir Dis 117: 903–909PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gilbert R, Auchincloss JH, Brodsky J, Broden W (1972) Changes in tidal volume, frequency, and ventilation induced by their measurement. J Appl Physiol 33: 252–254PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Asmussen E (1977) Regulation of respiration: “the black box”. Acta Physiol Scand 99: 85–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Neubauer JA, Santiago TC, Edelman NH (1981) Hypoxia arousal in intact and carotid denervated sleeping cats. J Appl Physiol 51: 1294–1299PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hirshman CA, McCullough RE, Weil JV (1975) Normal values for hypoxia and hypercapnic ventilatory drives in man. J Appl Physiol 38: 1095–1098PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Tobin MJ (1988) State of the art: respiratory monitoring in the intensive care unit. Am Rev Respir Dis 138: 1625–1642PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Shore ET, Millman RP, Silage DA, Chung DC, Pack AI (1985) Ventilatory and arousal patterns during sleep in normal young and elderly subjects. J Appl Physiol 59: 1607–1615PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Peterson DD, Pack AI, Silage DA, Fishman AP (1981) Effects of aging on ventilatory and occlusion pressure responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia. Am Rev Respir Dis 124: 387–391PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tack M, Altose D, Cherniack NS (1981) Effect of aging on respiratory sensations produced by elastic loads. J Appl Physiol 50: 844–850PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cherniack NS (1984) Sleep apnea and its causes. J Clin Invest 73: 1501–1506PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mador MJ, Tobin MJ (1987) Effect of various levels of cortical activity on the constancy of respiratory center output (abstract). Am Rev Respir Dis 135: A370Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Phillipson EA (1978) Control of breathing during sleep. Am Rev Respir Dis 118: 909–939PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Tobin
  • K. L. Yang
  • M. J. Mador
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Pulmonary DiseaseUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations