Neural and mechanical mechanisms of feline purring

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Neural and mechanical mechanisms of feline purring
J. E. Remmers and H. Gautier
Respiration Physiology
Volume 16, Issue 3, December 1972, Pages 351-361

Neural and mechanical mechanisms of feline purring*1

J. E. Remmers2 and H. Gautier3
Department of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
Accepted 13 July 1972. ; Available online 10 January 2003.

Purring results from the intermittent activation of intrinsic laryngeal muscles as manifest by a very regular, stereotyped pattern of EMG bursts occurring 20–30 times per second. Each burst of muscle discharge causes glottal closure and the development of a trans-glottal pressure which, when dissipated by glottal opening, generates sound. During inspiration, the diaphragmatic discharge is also chopped, and the diaphragmatic and laryngeal bursts occur dissynchronously. This alternating activation of the two muscles serves to limit the negative swings in tracheal pressure and promotes inspiratory flow during the period of minimal glottal resistance.

Interruption of the afferent pathways for a variety of respiratory mechanoreceptors failed to eliminate the neural oscillation characteristic of purring, suggesting the existence of a high frequency oscillatory mechanism within the central nervous system.


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