Pontine influences on breathing: An overview

George F. Alheid, William K. Milsom, Donald R. McCrimmon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Historical and contemporary views of the functional organization of the lateral pontine regions influencing breathing are reviewed. In vertebrates, the rhombencephalon generates a breathing rhythm and detailed motor pattern that persist throughout life. Key to this process is an essentially continuous column of neurons extending from the spino-medullary border through the ventrolateral medulla, continuing through the ventral pons and arcing into the dorsolateral medulla. Comparative neuroanatomy and physiology indicate this is a richly interconnected network divided into serial, functionally distinct compartments. Serial compartmentalization of pontomedullary structures related to breathing also reflects the developmental segmentation of the rhombencephalon. However, with migration of cell groups such as the facial nucleus from the pons to the medulla during ontogeny, the boundaries of the adult pons are sometimes difficult to precisely define. Accordingly, a working definition of rostral and caudal pontine boundaries for adult mammals is depicted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Nov 15 2004


  • Parabrachial
  • Pons
  • Respiratory control
  • Rhombencephalon
  • Ventral pons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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