Neural Control of Respiratory and Cardiovascular Functions

Jack L. Feldman*, Donald R McCrimmon, Shaun F. Morrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Aerobic cellular metabolism is essential for life in vertebrates. In mammals, we transport O2 from the environment into the body via the lung, at which point it passes into the bloodstream, where it is circulated to all tissues and CO2 is absorbed for disposal via the lung. The brain plays a critical role in this process: generating and controlling the neural discharge to rhythmically activate the muscles that expand and squeeze the lung for air exchange and to modulate cardiac muscle and vascular smooth muscle that determine the amount and distribution of blood flow to the tissues. The circulation is also an essential conduit for the delivery of nutrients, the removal of metabolic byproducts, and the transport of hormones and drugs. The cardiopulmonary nervous system has to be extremely reliable from birth to death with essentially no pauses, and exceptionally flexible, supporting the metabolic demands of behavior over an order of magnitude range from rest to the extreme exertion that might be required to flee from a predator or chase down prey. Here, we provide an overview of the critical CNS mechanisms controlling cardiopulmonary function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFundamental Neuroscience
Subtitle of host publicationFourth Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780123858719
ISBN (Print)9780123858702
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Baroreceptor reflex
  • Cardiorespiratory chemoreception
  • Lung reflexes
  • Respiratory rhythm generation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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