How come there are some automated body functions that we can “override” and others that we can’t?

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For example, we can will ourselves breathe/blink faster, or choose to hold our breath. But at the same time, we can’t will a faster or slower heart rate or digestion when it might be advantageous to do so. What is the difference in the muscles involved or brain regions associated with these automated functions?

In: Biology

9 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

These answers are good, but tend to be in terms of mechanics. How things work instead of why.

The likely reason that breathing is automated but we can take control of it is that there have been advantages to having breathing automated and significant advantages to being able consciously hold or otherwise control our breath so we evolved to be about to do it. We control our breathing to make vocal sounds, speak, and hold our breath under water (although the latter could probably be delegated to automated response).

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