Why Are Yawns Contagious?

When people yawn, I yawn, too. Is there a reason for that? why is yawning so contagious?

asked by Jack Jack in Science | 2675 views | 07-23-2009 at 06:56 PM

No one knows for sure, but a study published in a recent issue of the journal Cognitive Brain Research theorizes that yawning in response to someone else's yawn may be an empathetic response, similar to laughter. A yawn can be triggered not only by seeing a person yawn but also by hearing, reading about, or even just thinking about yawns.

answered by Lucky | 07-23-2009 at 06:57 PM

Yawning is extremely contagious -- 55% of people who witness someone yawn will yawn within five minutes. If a visually impaired person hears a tape of someone yawning, he or she is likely to yawn as well. Rather than being a precursor to sleep, yawning is designed to keep us awake.
Yawning is not related to boredom or a lack of oxygen in the blood. It is simply a mechanism of drawing air up into the sinus cavities to cool the brain.
Yawning seems to be associated with sleepiness because when people get sleepy, they tend to breathe through their mouths more, and the mouth does not provide the same cooling effect that the nose does.
According to the new theory, cooling the brain makes people more alert, and contagious yawning probably developed as an evolutionary mechanism to help groups remain vigilant against danger.

So we all yawn to protect each other.

answered by Maria | 07-23-2009 at 07:01 PM

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