Breathing technique in pain and cognitive function: a systematic review of the literature

  • Juan Pablo Alzate-Granados Universidad de la Costa. Barranquilla (Colombia)
  • Armando Solarte Universidad de la Costa. Barranquilla (Colombia)
  • Pedro Javier Lopez Universidad de la Costa. Barranquilla (Colombia)
  • Ernesto Barceló Universidad de la Costa. Barranquilla (Colombia)



Breathing techniques are key components of yoga, meditation and relaxation practices that are well known for reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being. To evaluate the efficacy of breathing techniques in pain and cognitive function. We conducted a literature review searching the main literature databases (medline, lilacs, Cochrane library) including randomized clinical trials. We assessed the risk of bias of the included studies using the methodology proposed by the Cochrane collaboration. In total, we found 16 studies that met the inclusion criteria, with an intermediate or unclear overall risk of bias. When combining the different breathing techniques vs control in the included studies, we found a statistically significant difference in terms of the visual analog scale (Difference of means, random effects; -1.21 [95% CI -1.75 to -0.68]; I2: 95%). Meditation-based breathing techniques would improve pain and cognitive function in patients with a painful entity or healthy volunteers.

Keywords: Breathing techniques, Pain, Cognitive function, Systematic review, Breath holding


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Alzate-Granados, J., Solarte, A., Lopez, P., & Barceló, E. (2020). Breathing technique in pain and cognitive function: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of Applied Cognitive Neuroscience, 1(1), 25-42. Retrieved from