Whereas respiratory psychophysiological research has mainly studied respiratory time and volume, variability in these parameters has been largely disregarded, even though it may provide important information about respiratory regulation. The present paper reviews the literature on respiratory variability and elaborates on the importance of assessing various components of respiratory variability when studying the interrelationships between emotions and breathing. A model is proposed that predicts specific action tendencies related to emotions to disturb the balance between various respiratory variability components depending on valence by arousal and control dimensions. The central focus of the paper is sighing. The causes and consequences of sighing are reviewed and integrated in the proposed model in which sighing is hypothesized to function as a resetter in the regulation of both breathing and emotions, because it restores a balance in respiratory variability fractions and causes relief.
- Respiratory variability