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Do you know why yawning is contagious? Experts answers the question

Can you resist your yawn when your friend is yawning in front of you?
Written by: India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi September 01, 2017 16:00 IST
India TV Lifestyle Desk

When our friend is yawning in front of us, we can’t control our urge to do the same. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Why can’t you control your urge to yawn when someone else does? The recent research has answered the age old question; why is yawning contagious? According to the recent research, because the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in a brain area responsible for motor function. When we observe someone else yawning, contagious yawning is triggered. It is a common form of echophenomena, which is an automatic Imitation of another’s words or action. 

The findings of the research showed that our urge to yawn is increased when we’re told not to yawn. No matter how hard you try, it will change how you yawn, but you can’t stop your tendency to yawn. 

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"This research has shown that the 'urge' is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning," said Georgina Jackson, a Professor at the University of Nottingham. 

"The findings may be important in understanding association between motor excitability and the occurrence of echophenomena in a wide range of conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilepsy, dementia, autism, and Tourette syndrome," added Stephen Jackson, a Professor at the varsity. 

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The study was published in the Journal Biology. In the study, the team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study volunteers who saw videos showing someone yawning. They were told to resist yawning or allowed to yawn.

"If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them. We are looking for potential non-drug, personalised treatments, using TMS that might be affective in modulating imbalances in the brain networks," Jackson said. 

And wait here, echophenomena is not only found in humans. Even chimpanzees and dogs couldn’t resist their yawn seeing someone else doing so. 

(With IANS Inputs) 

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