Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 43–53 | Cite as

Acoustic Perturbation of Breathing: A Newly Discovered Response to Soft Sounds in Rats Using an Approach of Image Analysis

  • Ta-Wei Shen
  • Tang-Jen Liu
  • Daniel Šuta
  • Chien-Cheng LeeEmail author
Original Article


Whether soft sounds are effective in eliciting any reflexive body movements remains unknown. To detect the possible sound-induced changes of body movements in unconstrained rats, we had developed and tested a novel method of image analysis based on a modified optical flow algorithm. Data collection involved a digital camera that captured from above body images of an unrestrained rat, while a short-duration noise burst was presented unexpectedly at different intensities. Positive responses of acoustic perturbation of breathing were successfully detected over the chest or abdominal area in all 6 rats studied, and reported here for the first time. The reflex change was a relatively small sound-induced perturbation in the amplitude of breathing and/or in the inter-breath interval exceeding a statistical threshold of the pre-stimulus levels. Results showed that such acoustic perturbation of breathing could be elicited rather robustly (> 90%) even with very soft sounds (< 30 dB SPL, or Sound Pressure Level). We concluded that our method of image analysis was powerful enough to detect these subtle changes of breathing pattern in freely moving rats.


Breathing pattern Acoustic reflex Soft sounds Optical flow Movement analysis 



We thank Dr. Paul Poon for helpful discussion and for reading the manuscript, and the suggestions of Jiri Popelar and Tetyana Chumak during the beginning part of experiment.


This study was supported by grants: Ministry of Science and Technology (Grant Number: MOST 104-2218-E-155-002), and partly supported by the Czech Science Foundation (Grant Number GACR 16-09086J).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethics Approval

The study was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), and was conducted in accordance with the laws and regulations in Taiwan controlling experiments on live animals.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Taiwanese Society of Biomedical Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Electrical EngineeringFar East UniversityTainanTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Auditory Neuroscience, Institute of Experimental MedicineThe Czech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.Department of Medical Biophysics and Informatics, Third Faculty of MedicineCharles University in PraguePragueCzech Republic
  5. 5.Department of Cognitive Systems and Neurosciences, Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and CyberneticsCzech Technical UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  6. 6.Department of Communications EngineeringYuan-Ze UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan, ROC

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