Researches from Northwestern Medicine, had a surprising discovery saying breathing can actually improve emotions and memory.
The changes in the brain depend on whether people are inhaling or exhaling. As well as if they're breathing through the nose or mouth.
Results of the study showed that people tend to recognize a frightful face more rapidly when they see it while breathing in than when breathing out.
Participants also tend to remember a question when it's asked while inhaling than when they were exhaling. However, the effect isn't noticed when they were breathing through the mouth.
"One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation. When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system," said Lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, with Medical News Today
Researchers accidentally noticed these brain activities when epileptic patients were scheduled for a brain surgery. A scientist embedded cathodes in the patients' brains to recognize the root of their seizures a week before the surgery. During the tests, changes in the brain were noticed as breathing rhythm varied.
The results of the study mean that breathing can help us survive dangerous situations.
"If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster," explains Zelano.
"As a result, you'll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state," she adds. "Thus, our body's innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment."
Experts also linked breathing to improvement in cognitive functions. They said, inhaling may help people focus, since breathing refines brain connections.
"When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network," Zelano adds.
This study explains how breathing exercises can help with the brain performance. Thus, every time you feel nervous, or every time you're in risky situations, just breathe in and breathe out through the nose. It may help you think clearer. Let's just hope you don't have a cold.