Science. What makes yawns contagious and why are they so common? The answer may be finally here

Did you yawn when you saw the photo or read the title of the article? Perhaps even better, did someone else yawn as well.

Science. What makes yawns contagious and why are they so common? The answer may be finally here

Did you yawn when you saw the photo or read the title of the article? Perhaps even better, did someone else yawn as well. Although contagious yawning is well-known, it has been difficult to determine its cause or purpose. The answer may lie in a study published by the New York University researchers in the current issue of Animal Behavior.

This scientific article provides hypotheses about spontaneous yawning and mimicry. Some of the ideas we have are false.

This is a common misconception. It is a common misconception! Andrew Gallup, a researcher, is the author of the study. He performed an experiment to measure the oxygen levels in blood samples of people. He writes that it was discovered that breathing and yawning are controlled by different mechanisms. There is now consensus in scientific literature that breathing doesn't play an essential role in yawning.

He also reminds us that marine mammals can also yawn. They can open their jaws underwater, even though they have gills.

They usually occur when you are in a state of change, such as when you wake up, before falling asleep, or transitioning from relaxation to concentration or vice versa. However, yawning doesn't always mean that you are falling asleep. The study also mentioned occurrences that occur under stress. "In humans, more people yawned just before stressful or anxiety-provoking events such as soldiers before their first parachute jump, musicians before they play, and Olympic athletes before competing. This is because sudden stress can cause a shift in our concentration that is similar to how we feel when we get up.

Whether you yawning because you are tired or you want to focus more, it is an indication that you are trying to get a boost of energy or to make yourself more attentive. The study shows that opening your mouth wide helps cool the brain after it experiences a temperature rise. "Yawning is believed to be a compensatory mechanism that cools the brain by increasing blood circulation, oxygenating the airways and bringing in fresh breath. This drop in temperature makes us more alert and active.

It seems absurd to mimic the way we yawn to stay alert and refresh our brains. It is then a social phenomenon, and not a physical one, according to the study. While many hypotheses have been put forward as to why this reflex occurs, none of them have provided a satisfactory explanation.

Andrew Gallup suggests that chains yawns can be used to communicate information between animals in a group. The others are warned to increase their concentration in order to avoid the dangers. "Seeing others do this would increase the vigilance and attention of witnesses to compensate for the drowsiness or loss of focus of the yawner."

It has been proven that people are more alert and attentive after hearing or seeing someone yawn. Participants were asked to locate the snake image among several images of frogs in an experiment. People who had previously seen someone yawning found the threatening animal faster than the others.

The final and most important question is: Did Andrew Gallup, the study author, spend too much time yawning while he was researching? In an interview with Science.org, he answered the question: Yes! He became more comfortable with the images and lost this reflex. How many times have your eyes rolled while you read this article?

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