Try not to YAWN when you read this.


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The concept of yawning is so silly to me. There are several dimensions that intruige me about a yawn. Just think about it. 
  1. It happens most when you are tired.
  2. The fact that it is contagious.
  3. (this one is my favorite) If you are smiling, a yawn is IMPOSSIBLE to get out. 
I took a look into the inner workings and found an article posted by Discovery.com that says the primary function of yawning is to cool down the brain. Usually, a yawn happens before or after bed which means that the brain needs to be cooled during those times. In the article it is said that 'Andrew Gallup, a researcher in the Department of Biology at Binghamton University said "They operate most efficiently when cool, and physical adaptations have evolved to allow maximum cooling of the brain."' In order to get the correct amount of cool air to cool the brain, one must have their mouth open very large to ensure a strong inhalation. 
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There is also the matter of yawning being contagious. I looked around and found a study that explains that yawning is contagious but can be decreased by breathing through the nose or by cooling of the forehead. 

I have a confession to make, although I am so curious about why a yawn happens, just reading about it is making me yawn a whole lot. I'm sure I am not the only one. 

Another interesting angle is that yawning is contagious among friends.  It is argued that empathy is a factor when it comes to contagious yawns. Also this article claims that children with Autism do not experience contagious yawning. I found this so interesting because Autism is linked to social interaction.

So I have a challenge for you, next time you have to yawn make eye contact with someone. If they are a close friend, you may have just given them your yawn. Try this out with your not so best friends also and see how they react. Something I like doing for my own amusement is giving someone a yawn and then making them laugh so they can not yawn. Tortuous, yes but oh so amusing!

5 Comments

Individuals with Autism may typically fail to "catch" another person's yawn because their condition makes it harder for them to feel other's emotions (emphathy). In order for someone to fully understand and relate to another's emotions they must be able to read that person's facial expressions or any other non-verbal ques. This is especially difficult for people that have autism which leads to why they are usually unable to "catch" yawns from those they are around. By the way, not my best idea to read a blog about yawning so late at night!

This was such a great blog post! I actually laughed out loud when you talked about how reading this information made you yawn alot because the same thing was happening to me as I was reading your blog! I can't wait to try and give my roommate my yawn tomorrow. I found the part about children with Austim not being able to catch a yawn very interesting. It opened me to realize how different people are and how some people can never experience little things like that,for example.

I actually had to yawn when I read this too! I never really even questioned why I yawn before I read this article. It's very interesting that yawning is the way the brain cools down before and after resting. I wonder why we feel the need to yawn right in the morning though, even after sleep. Its kind of like our body's way of torturing us! Also, the fact that there is proof that yawning is contagious actually shocked me. I always thought that was just a myth!

I find it interesting as well that yawning is contagious. I believe tat your discovery about yawning being more contagious among friends very curious as well. I makes me wonder whether yawning is truly contagious or we have just been told it is all our lives and we mentally react when seeing someone else yawn. I am not quite sure I believe that yawning is not necessarily contagious. I believe that when someone is told something such as a myth or rule they live by and believe that rule for the majority of their lives. I believe this is one of those myths. It is a very interesting concept and I know that I personally have not yawned after seeing someone else yawn so whether I am just strange and can avoid it or if it just is not contagious. I am just curious if this myth could ever be proven in correct.

I have always wondered why yawning is "contagious". My junior year of high school, my Psychology teacher did an experiment in the class that only she and one other designated student knew about. Every few minutes throughout the class, she would yawn, and had the student record how many students yawned within the following minute. By the end of the class period, almost every single student in the class had yawned at least once, and many had more than once! Many similar experiments have been recorded, but no concrete answer has been found on why they are "contagious"

Here is a video that I thought was an interesting amateur "experiment"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsqxppIRV7k

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