Why Do We Yawn?


| 7 Comments
yawning-is-contagious04.jpg

               The first thing I ever learned about in my high school biology class was about yawning. There are many theories about why we yawn, yet none have been proven. However, what I learned about yawning was not a theory. It was that if anyone was caught yawning, they would have to go to the middle of the class room and stand there while they take notes. I would guess that my teacher prescribed to the "yawning because we are bored" idea.

                There is some ground for this theory. A 1986 study showed that students are more likely to yawn when they are bored. A group of students were observed to yawn more while watching a 30 minutes color-bar test pattern as opposed to when watching a 30 minute rock video. However, there are more explanations than bored for our yawning.

                However, the most recent research suggests that yawning exists to cool down the brain. By opening our mouths wider, we can pump more air into our brains which can lower brain temperature.  Gary Hack, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry claims that the human brain is like a computer, and extremely sensitive to temperature and must stay cool to work efficiently. 



7 Comments

I found your essay to be very intriguing, however I wish you didn't end it so abruptly...I wanted to learn more! There is also a theory that yawning is contagious, which wouldn't surprise me considering I yawn every time I catch someone else yawning. Here's a website that can elaborate on this theory!
http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/contagious-yawn.htm

There was no way I could pass by your post without reading it because of that adorable puppy! Anyway, I think it's pretty interesting that we yawn when we are both tired and bored. Did you know that yawns are more contagious between people who know each other? That's what this article says at least. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/facts-yawning-why-we-yawn-contagious_n_3398301.html

I thought that was pretty cool! Essentially the point of yawning is to cool down the brain, as you said. My article also says that since we are looking to cool down the brain, you yawn more in the winter than the summer because the air is colder!

So the theory that I've heard over and over again is that you yawn in order to send more oxygen to your brain. As an extension of that, people have told me that when we're bored or tired we forget to breathe as much (or something along those lines) causing us to yawn more. I never really looked too much more into it because I just accepted it as an explanation, but after reading the articles that you and the other people who commented posted, it definitely seems like the cooling down the brain explanation is most accurate. This website had similar findings: http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2008/12/17/yawning-and-thermoregulation-i/

So the theory that I've heard over and over again is that you yawn in order to send more oxygen to your brain. As an extension of that, people have told me that when we're bored or tired we forget to breathe as much (or something along those lines) causing us to yawn more. I never really looked too much more into it because I just accepted it as an explanation, but after reading the articles that you and the other people who commented posted, it definitely seems like the cooling down the brain explanation is most accurate. This website had similar findings: http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2008/12/17/yawning-and-thermoregulation-i/

There was a teacher in my high school who also didn't approve of students yawning in class, luckily I didn't have her. I think yawning is a really interesting topic to blog about because like you said, no one really knows why people yawn. Like Madeline though, my mom always told me yawning was a way to get more oxygen to the brain. Whenever I catch myself yawning it's because I feel really tired or I see someone else yawn-- and that's the worst. This NBC article claims the most logical explanation for yawning is because oxygen levels are low. However, I found the article interesting because it states that fetuses have been observed yawning before (even though they don't need oxygen through their lungs) and that's something I didn't know.

Apparently yawning is one of those topics that scientists just can not figure out. The article on this website ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/facts-yawning-why-we-yawn-contagious_n_3398301.html ) says how there are many theories about why we yawn. It says that we yawn because we are tired or because we are bored. Another theory states that it cools down our brain. However, the article does say how the common theory of us yawning due to lack of oxygen in the brain is actually false. This article even states that fetuses can even yawn!

Interesting post, Michael! I am a contagious yawner for sure, I think I yawned at least 3 times during your post- and not because I was bored at all, but because talking about yawning makes me yawn! I actually just read an article about a Chimpanzee study, which reveals that humans and chimpanzees alike, who yawn contagiously, are more empathetic than those who do not. The study was conducted through Emory University, and showed chimpanzees videos of other chimps yawning, and then members of their own social group yawning. The chimps yawned 50% more when their social group yawned. Since chimpanzees are so shown the video biologically similar to us, scientists have yet to test the same study on humans, but believe it would have produced similar results. Check it out here! http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/chimpanzee-study-reveals-why-yawning-is-contagious

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Be Sure To Eat Your Nicotine
Today, Parkinson's proves be one the deadliest diseases out there. According to Mayo Clinic, it's "a progressive disorder of the…
Dementia and Art Therapy Part 2
The results of the experiment varied on many different levels. Within the article they provided graphs based on the…
Daily quizzes might be the key to an A
Its finals week, you're cramming all the information you can for you're upcoming exams, and if you're anything like…

Old Contributions