Breathing through the nose may improve the transfer of experience to long-term memory, finds a study of human adults published in Journal of Neuroscience.
The findings add to growing evidence for the influence of respiration on human perception and cognition.
Building on previous research in animals and humans, Artin Arshamian and colleagues compared the effects of nose breathing and mouse breathing during a one-hour consolidation period after participants were exposed to various odors.
Nose breathers, whose mouths were taped over during the consolidation period, showed increased odor recognition compared to mouth breathers, whose noses were clipped during consolidation.
Although this study did not measure brain activity, the researchers suggest that nose breathing may facilitate communication between sensory and memory networks as memories are replayed and strengthened during consolidation.
The study provides evidence that, in addition to its effects on memory encoding and retrieval, nasal respiration also supports memory consolidation.
Funding: Funding provided by Swedish Research Council, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
Source: David Barnstone – SfN
Image Source: image is credited to Arshamian et al., JNeurosci (2018).
Original Research: Abstract for “Respiration modulates olfactory memory consolidation in humans” by Artin Arshamian, Behzad Iravani, Asifa Majid and Johan N. Lundström in Journal of Neuroscience. Published October 22 2018.