17.5 Regulation of Respiration

Human beings have a significant ability to maintain and moderate the respiratory rhythm to suit the demands of the body tissues. This is done by the neural system.

A specialised centre present in the medulla region of the brain called respiratory rhythm centre is primarily responsible for this regulation. Another centre present in the pons region of the brain called pneumotaxic centre can moderate the functions of the respiratory rhythm centre.

Neural signal from this centre can reduce the duration of inspiration and thereby alter the respiratory rate. A chemosensitive area is situated adjacent to the rhythm centre which is highly sensitive to CO2 and hydrogen ions.

Increase in these substances can activate this centre, which in turn can signal the rhythm centre to make necessary adjustments in the respiratory process by which these substances can be eliminated.

Receptors associated with aortic arch and carotid artery also can recognise changes in CO2 and H+ concentration and send necessary signals to the rhythm centre for remedial actions. The role of oxygen in the regulation of respiratory rhythm is quite insignificant.

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