Skip to Main Content
Developing quantitative descriptions of how stimulant and depressant drugs affect the respiratory system is an important focus in medical research. Respiratory variables-respiratory rate, tidal volume, and end tidal carbon dioxide-have prominent temporal dynamics that make it inappropriate to use standard hypothesis-testing methods that assume independent observations to assess the effects of these pharmacological agents. We present a polynomial signal plus autoregressive noise model for analysis of continuously recorded respiratory variables. We use a cyclic descent algorithm to maximize the conditional log likelihood of the parameters and the corrected Akaike's information criterion to choose simultaneously the orders of the polynomial and the autoregressive models. In an analysis of respiratory rates recorded from anesthetized rats before and after administration of the respiratory stimulant methylphenidate, we use the model to construct within-animal z-tests of the drug effect that take account of the time-varying nature of the mean respiratory rate and the serial dependence in rate measurements. We correct for the effect of model lack-of-fit on our inferences by also computing bootstrap confidence intervals for the average difference in respiratory rate pre- and postmethylphenidate treatment. Our time-series modeling quantifies within each animal the substantial increase in mean respiratory rate and respiratory dynamics following methylphenidate administration. This paradigm can be readily adapted to analyze the dynamics of other respiratory variables before and after pharmacologic treatments.