Part II: Why We Breathe

Editors note: This is part 2 of our 2 part episode with Professor Jack Feldman, don’t forget to catch our first episode here

The Most Important Thing

We continue our conversation with Professor Jack Feldman on how he revolutionized our understanding of the neural control of breathing. We dived deeper into the topic of breathing and how it has the ability to change our emotional state. I also get to run a few yoga teachings on the breath by Jack to see how they align (or don’t) with his scientific understanding.

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.

Episode Overview

In part two of this episode, Professor Jack Feldman shared his thoughts on living through the polio epidemic and broke down of the importance of a vaccine. Besides that, he also shared how his study finds that breathing could affect cognitive functions positively.

Jack also took a few moments to highlight the differences in breathing between animals and humans in this episode.

My Favorite Quotes

“I've been wearing a seatbelt for ever since they became available. I've yet to get in a serious car accident. So you could argue why bother wearing a seatbelt? Well, you wear a seatbelt because the consequences of the rare possibility you get in an accident.”

“if you weigh that against the possibility that the vaccine does something negative right now, that data is extremely small. I wouldn't say zero. It's extremely small. And certainly if the odds are 99.999999 in favor.”

“One of the ways that the brain consolidates it's information is then when things repeat, it strengthens the connections between neurons.”

“If you're less anxious, you're likely to have a longer lifespan if you could maintain it.”

“When we think about how breath could be influencing higher function, cognition, or emotion, the signals that are related to breathing can arrive in the brain by a variety of pathways. Every time you expand your lungs, there are receptors in your lungs that become activated. They send signals up into the brainstem, through the vagus nerve.”

Episode Breakdown (Part 1)

05:10 - Jack’s recollection of the Polio endemic 

08:30 - Touching on vaccines and Covid-19

13:00 - Neuro scientist on brain functions

27:30 - Thoughts on elogating breathing extending lifespans 

34:38 - How breathing affects our mental states

44:30 - Something that Jack still finds surprising from his research

48:06 - A research that Jack personally wants to test

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

The Science of Breath, Swami Rama

Box Breathing Technique

Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar

Overview of Nadi Channels

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Marc’s Info

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Look Up! Website

Marc's Instagram

Marc's Twitter

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