Introduction

The control system of the ventilatory pump is composed of an input unit for afferent information with central and peripheral sensors (chemoreceptors, mechanoreceptors, cortical influences), an integrator/controller (brainstem rhythm and pattern generator), an output unit (efferent pathways, motor nerves), and a motor (respiratory muscles), which moves the machinery (chest wall) (Fig, 1). The purpose is to adapt pulmonary ventilation to the needs of the body's metabolism. In this chapter we deal only with the central control and neuronal efferent and afferent aspects of this topic.

Fig. 1 Diagram of the respiratory control system showing the efferent nervous pathways (thin green line), the afferent nervous pathways (broken green line), and the humoral pathways (thick green line). (Reproduced with permission from Si,m,2Q,I19,9,l).)

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