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Background: Neural gating of respiratory sensations (NGRS) characterises the brain's ability to filter out repetitive respiratory sensory stimuli. This mechanism plays a crucial role in the neural processing of respiratory stimuli. However, whether ageing affects NGRS in healthy adults is still unclear. Therefore, we aimed to measure the effect of age on NGRS as well as the corresponding S1 and S2 components of the respiratory-related evoked potentials (RREPs).

Methods: Three age groups of healthy adults participated in this study: a young group (YG; age 20-39 years), a middle-aged group (MG; age 40-59 years) and an old group (OG; age ≥60 years). NGRS was measured by the RREPs in the electroencephalogram in response to short-paired respiratory occlusion stimuli (S1 and S2). The S2/S1 ratio of the RREP N1 amplitude (the negative deflection of the RREP at ∼85-135 ms) was used to characterise NGRS.

Results: The results showed a significantly smaller N1 S2/S1 ratio in the YG than in the MG (p=0.01) and OG (p=0.03). Further analysis showed that the S1 N1 amplitude was larger for the YG compared with the MG (p=0.03) and OG (p=0.007). Moreover, age was significantly correlated with the N1 S2/S1 ratio (r=0.43), with higher age relating to higher N1 S2/S1 ratios.

Conclusions: The greater N1 S2/S1 ratios observed in older adults suggest that ageing has a negative impact on the NGRS. This might contribute to increased experiences of respiratory sensations such as dyspnoea in ageing adults.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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ERJ open research