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Yawning- Why Is It Contagious

Yawning- Why Is It Contagious

Has anyone thought of why yawning is contagious? Everyone just knows that if one person yawns, this may cause another person to yawn. Observing another person yawning (especially his/her eyes), even reading, or thinking about yawning, or looking at a yawning picture can cause a person to yawn. If you are wondering why, here is an answer:

Yawning is an involuntary action that causes us to open our mouths wide and breathe in deeply.

The cause for contagious yawning may lie within the mirror neurons, which means that you may get exposed to similar actions of your colleagues or friends.

But what is Mirror neuron? Mirror neurons lie in one area of the brain. It is proved through MRI that mirror neurons are the driving force for imitation (mimic), which lies at the root of human learning such as language acquisition.

It is this area in the brain, which gets activated, whenever humans perform conscious and imitative act. Say, it can be any contagious actions - when a person performs an action, the brain region triggers the mirror neurons and we see another individual performing the similar action.

Studies have also shown that the phenomenon might be related toward empathy - the ability to understand and connect with others' emotional status. It sounds strange, but whether or not you are susceptible to contagious yawning, it may actually be related to how much empathy you feel for others.

Thus, when we yawn back looking at others yawning, it correlates, that our mirror neuron or empathy has been activated and we are triggered to imitate the yawn.

So, how many times did you yawn while reading this article? I hope not too many!

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org
http://scienceray.com
http://www.ehow.com
http://health.howstuffworks.com

 

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