Expression for a pattern of respiration in which the tops of the inhalation cycles move higher or lower with each subsequent cycle, forming the characteristic “staircase” appearance. The increase in respiratory amplitude is called an ascending staircase, while the opposite pattern is a descending staircase. The descending version of this pattern has been found diagnostic in at least one study. See: Kircher, Kristjansson, Gardner, & Webb, A. (2005).