Respiratory Psychophysiology and the Modification of Breathing Behavior

Respiratory Psychophysiology and the Modification of Breathing Behavior


University at Albany, State University of New York

This issue of Behavior Modification is the second special issue dedi- cated to studies in respiratory psychophysiology. As with the first issue (see Ley, 2001), the present issue contains invited articles, each of which demonstrates the role of respiration in the study of applied and/or theoretical psychophysiology. Breathing as a behavior can be seen in its relationship to emotion and cognition in the context of their underpinnings in respiratory psychophysiology.

Although the number of articles in this collection is, like the earlier issue, relatively small, the scope of topics addressed is quite broad. The scope of the present issue ranges from an operating room in Japan, where the effects on breathing of electrolytic lesions in the limbic system’s amygdala are observed, to an animal laboratory in the United States, where experiments on the effects of carbon-dioxide-induced dyspnea in Pavlovian conditioning of dyspneic suffocation fear and the measurement of fear-motivated behavior in the rat are conducted, to hospital clinics in the United Kingdom and the United States, where the effects of treatment of dysfunctional breathing disorders are evaluated, to a classroom in the Netherlands, where the relationship between breathing and the well-being of school children is examined, and to university libraries throughout the world, where the works of those who only read and think and write can be studied.

In the introduction to the first special respiratory psychophysiology issue of Behavior Modification (Ley, 2001), a list of volumes dedi- cated exclusively to the publication of invited articles on topics from the field of respiratory psychophysiology was given. This list included the following volumes: Respiratory Psychophysiology, edited by von Euler and Katz-Salamon (1988), Behavioral and Psychological Approaches to Breathing Disorders, edited by Timmons and Ley (1994), a special issue of Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, edited by Ley (l994), and a special issue of Biological Psychology, edited by Wientjes and Grossman (1998).

Later in the same year as the earlier special issue (2001), another volume of invited articles from the field of respiratory psychophysiology was published: Respiration and Emotion, edited by Haruki, Homma, Umezawa, and Masaoka (2001). This volume, which contains articles invited for presentation at the International Interdisciplinary Sympo- sium on Respiration: Respiration and Emotion, held in Tokyo, July 23-25, 1999, marks the sixth volume of invited articles dedicated to the study of respiratory psychophysiology. (Two of the editors of this book, Yuri Masaoka and Ikuo Homma, are among the authors who contributed articles for the present special issue. See Christopher Gilbert’s review in the present special issue.)

Another recently published volume in the field of respiratory psychophysiology is Multidisciplinary Approaches to Breathing Pat- tern Disorders, by Chaitow, Bradley, and Gilbert (2002). Unlike the other volumes cited above, this book is not a compendium of invited articles; each of its 10 chapters was written by one or more of the three authors. This book is mentioned here because of its special relevance to clinicians engaged in the treatment of breathing disorders and clinicians who wish to learn about breathing-related disorders and their treatment. Emphasis on published research as a basis for treatment qualifies Chaitow et al.’s book as a unique contribution to clinical respiratory psychophysiology in particular and to the field of respiratory psychophysiology in general.

Although the range of topics covered in the sources listed above is indeed broad, it is only a sample of contemporary research in respira- tory psychophysiology. By way of helping the interested reader to gain an appreciation of the breadth of research in respiratory psychophysiology, attention should be paid to new directions in research that go beyond the hospital surgery, the laboratory, the clinic, and the classroom, to new sites in the industrial setting—especially the computer workplace (the modal workplace of the future, if not the present), where a hyperventilation theory of stress guides research in musculoskeletal complaints (Schleifer, Ley, & Spalding, 2002). Research on stress in the industrial setting contributes to the steadily growing scientific basis of the developing discipline of respiratory psychophysiology.

The present special issue of invited articles dedicated to the study of respiratory psychophysiology is the seventh such volume. Like the earlier volumes, this volume brings attention to the fact that respira- tion is the only vital function under both voluntary and involuntary control, a vital function that yields readily to both operant and Pavlov- ian conditioning procedures, a vital function that contributes to the control of blood flow to the brain and thus affects the brain’s function. In this way, breathing provides a bridge that unites the body with two functions of the brain: thought and emotion.


Chaitow, L., Bradley, D., & Gilbert, C. (2002). Multidisciplinary approaches to breathing pat- tern disorders. London: Harcourt.

Haruki, Y., Homma, I., Umezawa, A., & Masaoka, Y. (Eds.). (2001). Respiration and emotion. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag.

Ley, R. (1994). Special issue on respiratory psychophysiology. Biofeedback and Self- Regulation, 19, 97-189.

Ley, R. (2001). Respiratory psychophysiology and behavior modification. Behavior Modifica- tion, 25(4), 491-494.

Schleifer, L., Ley, R. & Spalding, T. (2002). A hyperventilation theory of job stress and musculoskeletal disorders. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 41(5), 420-432. Timmons, B., & Ley, R. (1994). Behavioral and psychological approaches to breathing disor-

ders. New York: Plenum.
von Euler, C., & Katz-Salamon, M. (1988). Respiratory psychophysiology. London: Macmillan. Wientjes, C., & Grossman, P. (1998). Special issue on respiratory psychophysiology. Biological

Psychology, 49, 1-128.

Ronald Ley, Ph.D., is a research professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and the author/coauthor and editor/coeditor of numerous publications (re- search reports, theoretical articles, essays, literature reviews, book reviews, journals, chapters, books) on a broad range of topics (learning, motivation, emotion, memory, respiratory psychophysiology, panic disorder, stress and industrial medicine, statistics, history).

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The guest editor thanks Michel Hersen for his invitation to edit this special issue and Carol Londerée for her editorial assistance. Special thanks to the authors of the articles contributed to this special issue and to colleagues who served as editorial consultants for this spe- cial issue of Behavior Modification: Gregory Fritz, Brown University School of Medicine; Jorge Gallego, Laboratoire de Neurologie et Physiology du Développement, Hopital Robert Debré, Paris; William Gardner, King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London; Richard Gevirtz, California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, California; Christopher Gilbert, Chronic Pain Management Center, Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco; Elizabeth Hollo- way, St. George’s Hospital, London; Donald Klein, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York; Harry Kotses, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; Lawrence Schleifer, University of Mary- land; Thomas Spalding, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA; Beverly Timmons, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London; and Susanna Widmer, Institute of Psychiatry, London.

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION, Vol. 27 No. 5, October 2003 603-606 DOI: 10.1177/0145445503256313
© 2003 Sage Publications

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