Have you ever been together with friends, suddenly one of your friends yawned, and you yawned too? How come it does?
Although it is often considered a marker of drowsiness, yawning is actually designed to keep us awake, said some researchers as reported by the BBC in a study reported in 2007.
Recent research shows that, more than just a marker of time to sleep, the reason for yawning is to cool the brain, so that it works more efficiently and keeps you awake. However, these various theories still leave many questions about human habits about yawning, and one of them is why people tend to yawn when they see other people yawn, or even evaporate while reading about yawning or thinking about yawning.
Yawning doesn't mean sleepy
A little enlightenment from scientists from the University of Albany in New York, Dr. Gordon Gallup, who carried out this yawning study: yawning along doesn't mean we "contract" other people's sleepiness. "We think the transmission of yawning is triggered by the mechanism of empathy in humans, whose function is to maintain brain alertness," Dr. Gordon, who led the researchers at the university.
In other studies it was reported that yawning is a habit that has the ability to "herd" unconsciously, just like when a bird flies and flaps its wings together.
Another theory hypothesizes that if someone yawns because of "contracting" another person, this can help someone communicate their level of alertness while coordinating sleep time. Basically, if one decides to sleep, they will say it to someone else by yawning, and will reply by yawning as a signal that they agree.
It doesn't happen to everyone
Molly Helt, researcher from clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, said, yawning can help doctors diagnose the development of health problems in someone. Yawning can also help doctors better understand how someone communicates and connects with others.
"Emotional transmission is a natural instinct that all humans have. Yawning may be one of them, "Molly said.
The inspiration for this research came when he tried to clean the ears of his child with autism. He repeatedly yawned in front of the child, hoping his child would also yawn. But the child never yawns back.
"The fact that autistic children don't do it can mean they really don't respond to the emotional connection around them," he explained.
In addition, Robert Provine, a neurologist from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County said that actually the fetus can also evaporate. The fetus evaporates in the uterus approximately 11 weeks after it is formed.
The researcher is still confused
Unfortunately, certain scientific reasons for why yawning can be contagious have not been explained by researchers. Just like the spread of laughter and crying, researchers and scientists have a theory that infectious yawning is a shared experience that enhances social relations. Helt specifically said, yawning can reduce stress and spread calm in a group.
In 2014, a number of researchers from Duke University conducted a study of 328 healthy people by asking them to watch a 3-minute video about people who yawned. Some participants began to contract yawning compared to other participants, ranging from zero to 15 times yawning, according to a study released March 14 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Age is the main factor that significantly affects people to become infected and yawn. In older people, they are not easily infected to yawn when watching videos of other people who are yawning. However, age only explained 8% difference from all participants who responded to the video."Our research does not show enough evidence that there is a connection between infectious yawning, and the suggestion of empathy," said Elizabeth Cirulli, assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke University School of Medicine.
The question is, did you yawn while reading this article?
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