Led by researchers at Northwestern University, the study asked around 60 people to make “snap judgements” about facial expressions flashing quickly on a computer screen. People inhaling were faster to identify a fearful face, which was not true for subjects exhaling or breathing through their mouths. Subjects were also asked to remember an object flashing briefly across a screen, and researchers found their recall was “better if the images were encountered during inhalation.”

Lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explains that when we inhale, neurons are stimulated “all across the limbic system,” including the amygdala — the part of our brain linked to recognizing and processing emotions — and the hippocampus, the part of our brain linked to memory. Zelano notes that there is a “dramatic difference” in these areas of the brain when inhaling compared to exhaling.

Read more about the study here.

Originally published at medium.com