For Better Memory, Just Breathe
The core belief of mindfulness and meditation is primarily centered on the breath. Governed by our autonomic nervous system, breathing is rarely paid attention to as we can trust our bodies to carry out this function independently. Breathwork and the concept of tending to our breath are proving to be beneficial in aspects such as stress reduction, improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and much more.
New research is being conducted to investigate the connection between nose breathing and long-term memory. Artin Arshamian and colleagues utilized rats to find the relationship between our respiration and olfactory bulb for memory consolidation. The two rat groups, with one group restricted to mouth breathing and one restricted to nose breathing, underwent an hour-long exposure to various odors. Researchers found that the nose breathing rats had higher rates of odor memory consolidation as opposed to their mouth-breathing counterparts.
The downstream signaling pathway for hippocampal rhythms requires respiration to allow signals to travel to the piriform cortex, ultimately leading to the hippocampus for neural processes that are necessary for memory formation. The hippocampus is home to many memory mechanisms such as formation, storage, and spatial memory. Due to this pathway, researchers believe that nose breathing can be applicable to more memory processes than just odors, as tested in their study on rats.
While further research will need to carried out to include brain activity monitoring and human participation, this research acts as a solid foundation in which to create hypotheses for the relationship between nose breathing and memory consolidation.