University of Bristol researchers have found certain sets of cells in the brain, that are capable of producing nervous impulses on their own , apparently necessary for gasping. These cells are called 'pacemakers.'
The research team, led by Professor Julian Paton said: 'Our studies resolve a 15-year-long controversy surrounding (sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death) by showing that pacemaker cells in the brain appear responsible for gasping, but not normal breathing. Importantly, cot death has been proposed to result from a failure of auto resuscitation and gasping.'
Dr. Jeffrey Smith of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Dartmouth University Professor Walter St.-John, and Paton put in their combined effort to study the mechanism of 'gasping'. They discovered that normal breathing is caused by a different set of brain cells, though auto resuscitation or gasping is the work of only a small subset of cells.
When the normal breathing ceases, this fall-back mechanism automatically induces gasping ,resuscitates the heart and restores normal breathing. The online edition of the ournal Nature Neuroscience has published this study.