Why Is Yawning Contagious

Report
Why Is Yawning Contagious
Joseph Francis Max Perrella And Kirk
McKeever Mulligan
Contents
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Title
Contents
Background: What is Yawning?
Background: Why do we Yawn
Background: Animal Yawning
Why is Yawning Contagious
Why is Yawning Contagious Cont.
Why is Yawning Contagious Cont.
Why is Yawning Contagious Conclusion
What is Yawning
• Yawning is an inhalation of air, with a
simultaneous stretching of the eardrums
– Yawning is followed by an exhalation
• Pandiculation: stretching an yawning at the
same time
Why do we Yawn
• Multiple theories
– Yawning occurs when an animals blood contains
an increased amount of carbon dioxide
• The body is forced to yawn to increase the influx of
oxygen
– Yawns are a way to open up one’s muscles,
accompanied by the urge to stretch it allows
animals to exert to their full physical potential
– Yawning may be the body’s way of regulating brain
temperature
Animals Yawning
• Animals Yawning can serve as a
warning signal
– Charles Darwin discovered
baboons yawn to threaten their
enemies
• Snakes yawn to realign their jaws
after eating and for respiration
reasons
• Dogs often yawn after seeing
humans yawn, and when they
feel uncertain
• Fish also yawn when they need
more oxygen
Why is Yawning Contagious
• Contagious yawning has been
observed since the 16th
century
– A translated French proverb
from 1508 says “one man’s
yawning makes another yawn.”
• Observing another persons
yawning face (especially eyes),
reading, thinking, or even
looking at a yawning picture
can cause someone to yawn
Why is Yawning Contagious Cont.
• The most probable case for contagious yawning
lies within our brains
– Mirror neurons in our frontal cortex are stimulated by
seeing others from the same species perform
gestures.
– Yawning is thought as an imitative impulse
• Young autistic children do not increase their
yawning after seeing others yawning, because
their frontal cortex is less developed to imitate
(same reason why they are less socially “normal”)
Why is Yawning Contagious Cont.
• Empathy is thought
to also be a strong
cause of yawn
contagion
– Yawns are most
contagious when we
see our family, then
friends, then
acquaintances, and
lastly strangers yawn
Why is Yawning Contagious Conclusion
• Conclusion: Yawn contagion is because of the
imitation neurons in our brain, and its
magnitude is driven by the emotional
closeness between individuals

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