Why do humans hiccup? Helping babies learn to breathe

Beijing time on December 10, according tomedia reports, after eating a holiday meal, or after drinking a glass of spirits, a few hiccups seem to be a very common thing. Sometimes, we also suddenly hiccupwith without any cause, and we can’t stop. So why do we hiccup?

Why do humans hiccup? Helping babies learn to breathe

The exact cause of human hiccups remains a mystery, but scientists have an interesting theory: hiccups may help fetuses in the womb learn to breathe, and later in life, hiccups are the after-effects of this early breathing training. So, according to Dr. Peter Kahrilas, a professor of gastroenterology and liver disease at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, hiccups are largely useless for adults.

Hiccups are reflections similar to those caused by a doctor hitting your knee with a hammer. When the reflection of hiccups is triggered, usually the esophagus or stomach is stimulated, and the brain stem sends signals to the diaphragm and other breathing muscles, causing them to contract involuntarily, causing a person to suddenly inhale air. Then, the anorexia (the back of the tongue is covered with a layer of mucous tissue cartilage) flips over, as it does when swallowed, covering the airways, producing a hiccup-specific sound.

Because hiccups close the airways, there is no breathing function and no other obvious use for adults, Karilas said. Hiccup reflexes do not protect the airways or throat than vomiting reflexes that prevent asphyxiation. “It doesn’t work,” Carreras says. Then this process recurs, and it becomes what we all know about hiccups. “。

However, the situation is different for fetuses in the womb, as well as for newborns. In the womb, the fetus gets oxygen through the placenta, and once born, the newborn’s life depends on whether it can breathe. “You have to have a trained breathing apparatus, ” Carillas explains. He believes that hiccups actually start in the womb and provide the necessary training by constantly contracting the breathing muscles. “It’s almost an equal long exercise (equal long-term contraction muscle movement training) … You try to inhale, but then you close the airways, making it more difficult to inhale. “

Fetuses and newborns often hiccups. In a recent study published in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology, researchers analyzed brain activity associated with hiccups in premature babies. The results showed that the proportion of time it took premature babies to hiccups was estimated at 1% (about 14 minutes per day). Lorenzo Fabrizzi, a senior researcher in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at University College London who led the study, said researchers had recorded fetal hiccups in the womb at nine weeks of pregnancy.

Fabrizio and colleagues monitored 217 premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and full-term babies (born after 39 weeks of pregnancy) hiccups within about an hour, and recorded the baby’s brain activity using an electroencephalogram. During this time, the researchers observed 13 infants hiccups and found that hiccups stimulated the emergence of three different types of brain waves in the cerebral cortex of newborns.

Previous studies of animal models and humans have found that indiscretions in the womb send signals to the cerebral cortex, Fabrizzi said. The researchers suggest that this process allows the brain to understand the location of these parts of the body so that it can be controlled freely in the future. A similar situation may occur in newborn hiccups, According to Fabirich.

“We know that in animal experiments, the contraction of the unwanted muscle can lead the brain to form a ‘body map’. Thus, based on this information, one potential explanation for diaphragm contraction (i.e. hiccup) is that the brain can form a map of the respiratory organs so that it can be controlled later,” Fabrizzi said.

Most of the time, human breathing is involuntary, depending on the signals the brain stem sends to the breathing muscles, but on the other hand, we can choose how to breathe (for example, when the doctor tells us to “take deep breathing”). Fabrizzi says babies may be learning to control their breathing through hiccups. It is not clear whether the area of the cortex stimulated by hiccups is associated with random breathing.

The researchers believe that whatever the initial function of hiccups is, their practical use has disappeared after the neonatal period. Despite this, the neural circuits still exist, buried in the brain stem, and can be activated by accident or accident almost any degree of stimulation, ” Says Karilas. (Any day)

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