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The pneumotaxic center, also known as the pontine respiratory group (PRG), is a network of neurons in the rostral dorsal lateral pons. It consists of the Kölliker-Fuse nucleus and the medial parabrachial nucleus.[1]

It can be considered an antagonist to the apneustic center, which produces abnormal inspiratory gasps. The PRG is important because it regulates the amount of air a person can take into the body in each breath. The dorsal respiratory group has rhythmic bursts of activity that are constant in duration and interval.[2] When we need to breath faster, the PRG tells the dorsal respiratory group to speed up. When we need longer breaths the bursts of activity are elongated. All the information that our body uses to help us breath happens in the pneumotaxic center. If this was damaged or in any way harmed it would make breathing on our own almost impossible. One study on this subject as on anesthetized paralyzed cats before and after bivagotomy. Ventilation was monitored in awake and anesthetized cats breathing air or CO2. Ventilation was monitored both before and after lesions to the pneumotaxic center region and after subsequent bilateral vagotomy. Cats with pontile lesions had a prolonged inspiratory duration.[3] In cats, after anaesthesia and bivagotomy, pontine transection has been described as evoking a long sustained inspiratory discharges interrupted by short expiratory pauses. In rats on the other hand, after anaesthesia, bivagotomy and pontine transection, this breathing pattern was not observed, either in vivo or in vitro. These results suggest interspecies differences between rat and cat in the pontine influences on the medullary respiratory generator.[4]

Respiratory effects

The PRG antagonizes the apneustic center, cyclically inhibiting inspiration. The PRG limits the burst of action potentials in the phrenic nerve, effectively decreasing the tidal volume and regulating the respiratory rate. Absence of the PRG results in an increase in depth of respiration and a decrease in respiratory rate.

See also


  1. (2006). Cytoarchitecture of Pneumotaxic Integration of Respiratory and Nonrespiratory Information in the Rat. Journal of Neuroscience 26 (1): 300–10.
  2. (2012). Comprehensive Physiology.
  3. (1975). Respiratory effects of pneumotaxic center lesions and subsequent vagotomy in chronic cats. Respiration Physiology 23 (1): 71–85.
  4. (1989). Pneumotaxic centre and apneustic breathing: Interspecies differences between rat and cat. Neuroscience Letters 99 (3): 311–6.

Further reading

  • Levitzky, Michael G. (2002). Pulmonary Physiology, 6th, 193–4, McGraw-Hill Professional.
  • Costanzo, Linda S. (2006). Physiology, 3rd, Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  • (2004). Pontine respiratory group neuron discharge is altered during fictive cough in the decerebrate cat. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 142 (1): 43–54.

External links

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