Part I: Why We Breathe

The Most Important Thing

How can something as simple as breathing impact our health and optimize performance? Famous for his breakthrough contributions within the field of breathing, sighing, and discovering the pre-botzinger complex. Jack Feldman takes us through almost four decades of his career, researching and discovering a process we all take for granted, breathing. 

About the Guest

Jack Feldman is a distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, he also holds a Ph.D. in Physics and is currently teaching at UCLA. 

His contributions to understanding the mechanisms of breathing and sighing include the pre-Bötzinger complex and demonstrating the essential role in generating respiratory rhythm in fetal, neonatal, and adult mammals. Jack Feldman’s influence is evident in numerous highly cited reviews, textbooks, and lectures. He was awarded the prestigious Hodgkin, Huxley, Katz Prize of The Physiological Society.

About “what Jack Feldman does

Professor Feldman’s laboratory focuses on the central problem confronting neuroscientists: how molecular, synaptic, and cellular properties of individual neurons in densely interconnected networks result in behaviors ranging from playing the piano to writing a book. Through a unique model system that enables them to perform studies that address this issue, Feldman and his colleagues are able to test their current hypothesis: pacemaker neurons underlie the generation of respiratory rhythm

Episode Overview

In part one of this episode, we got to speak to Professor Jack Feldman about his research into the field of breathing, sighing, and developing the Pre-Botzinger Complex. Jack broke down his journey of how he got into the research, conducting crazy experiments and took almost a decade trying to convince people of the importance of breaths.

Jack also took a few moments to highlight how a study into brain stems kickstarted his interest in the topic of the brain breath connection.

My Favorite Quotes

“You can't do anything interesting if you're afraid of failing and I'm willing to bet that that's something that people in your realm also follow.”

“You make investments, but some of the best investments are the things that might ultimately fail, but they could be spectacular.”

“One of the challenges in science is that the technology progresses and sometimes the technology allows you to answer questions that are very important. You can answer before. The problem with that is that we're under a lot of pressure as scientists to keep producing. And when a new technique comes along, you have to learn it sometimes have to spend a lot of money to get the equipment necessary to do that and that the tracks, your productivity.”

“Just like your car has one engine. We thought there would be a single-engine for breathing. We discovered about 15 years later that there appears to be a second engine and one engine is devoted to generating the inspiratory rhythm and the other is involved in generating rhythm.”

“I realized that the literature was just simply wrong and we embarked upon a series of crazy experiments to try and see if we could localize a site for generating breathing. I wouldn't say much to my surprise that we identified a relatively small spot in the brainstem that seemed to be critical for the generation.”

“You have to be resilient and you have to be persistent. At some point, you have to believe that you have an idea that's worth pursuing. ”

“You have to be careful where you become too much of a believer in an idea because things often, even good ideas get overturned as science progresses, and you have to be able to recognize it.”

Episode Breakdown (Part 1)

03:17 - Jack’s most surprising discovery about brain + breath connection

08:30 - Closely held belief of how breath was generated

16:51 - When and why Jack started researching breathing

20:40 - How the study of breathing came about 

33:00 - How a scientific peer review could make or break an experiment or theory

Catch the rest of the episode in part 2

Episode Links

Professor Jack Feldman’s Info

Jack Feldman - Instagram

Jack Feldman - LinkedIn

Jack’s scientific journals - Google Scholar 

Jack Feldman’s UCLA Profile and Publications

References made in the episode

Breathing Matters Video

Breathing Matters Article

In Search of Memory, Eric Kandel

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