To better understand behavioural and genetic influences upon breathing, the breathing patterns of 8 pairs of monozygous (MZ) twins were measured under 4 behavioural conditions; relaxed without standardisation; eyes closed; eyes open; and reading. Breathing was quantified by inspiratory and expiratory durations (T(I), T(E)), tidal volume (V(T)) and derived variables. Airflow shape was normalised and quantified using 8 dimensions. Reading caused breathing to increase by > 500 ml/min compared to the other four conditions. Differences in breathing between combinations of two conditions were compared by testing whether the differences within an individual were smaller than the differences between random pairs of individuals from the same 16 subjects. For almost all respiratory variables, and whatever the behavioural condition, there were highly significant similarities within an individual (p < 0.00025 on 32/80 comparisons). Under each condition, the differences within MZ twin-pairs were compared to the differences within random-pairs from the same subject population. There were highly significant similarities within twin-pairs for the airflow shape across all conditions. However, T(I), T(E) and V(T) failed to consistently show significant similarities within twin pairs. Hence, an individual's airflow shape appears to be a fundamental characteristic which is conserved when behavioural condition and level of ventilation changes. Further, MZ twins have similar airflow shapes - whatever the behavioural situation. Hence, behavioural influences upon airflow shape act upon monozygous twin pairs in similar ways, or such influences were negligible under the conditions of the present study.
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