Health Care

Why yawning is so contagious, explained

Why yawning is so contagious, explained

To test the link between "motor excitability" and contagious yawning, researchers invited volunteers to view video clips showing someone else yawning, and instructed them to either resist yawning or to allow themselves to yawn.

But if you're not the type of person to "catch" a yawn, we're gonna take a few steps back from you because you might be a psychopath.

'When people try not to yawn there is a tension in the brain, in the primary motor cortex which controls yawning, which wants to cause this action. Together, these findings demonstrate that the instruction to resist yawning significantly increases the urge to yawn and alters how the yawn may be expressed (i.e., stifled yawns rather than full yawns), but it does not alter the individual's propensity for yawning. First, if someone specifically tells you not to yawn, it's ever harder to avoid yawning. In other words, it's an automatic imitation of another person, according to the study, published online today (Aug. 31) in the journal Current Biology. Telling the participants to stifle their yawns only increased their urge to yawn, the researchers found.

Just thinking about yawning makes us yawn, and now scientists think they've figured out why yawning is so contagious.

US Closes Russian Consulate in San Francisco
Tillerson and Lavrov also agreed to a meeting in September, according to the official. On Friday, the consulate in San Francisco said it would stop operations a day early.

Echophenomena can also be seen in a wide range of clinical conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilespsy, dementia, autism and Tourette syndrome. It provides more information as to why people tend to yawn when others do, suggesting that the impulse behind contagious yawning is linked to the level of activity in people's brains. When participants were asked to record the urge to yawn, those asked to hold it wanted to do it even more. They measured the participants' brain activities during the experiment through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

They recruited 36 adults to help with their study. The researchers also found that people differ in their vulnerability to yawns.

"Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning", said Jackson.

Georgina Jackson, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology in the Institute of Mental Health, commented: "In Tourettes if we could reduce the excitability we might reduce the ticks and that's what we are working on". "We are looking for potential non-drug, personalised treatments, using TMS that might be affective in modulating inbalances in the brain networks". Prof Jackson added: "If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them".


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