Why do we yarn when we see others yarwning? Does looking at this image of a person yawning make you yawn? About half of adults yawn after someone else yawns due to a universal phenomenon called “ contagious yawning” . contrary to popular belief a new study from Duke University suggests that contagious yawning is not strongly related to variables lime empathy tiredness or energy levels.
Previous studies have suggested that there is a connection between contagious yawning and empathy. However researchers at The Duke Center for Human Genome Variation found that contagious yawning may decrease as people age and may not be associated with empathy. Most children aren’t susceptible to contagious yawning until they’re about four years old and children with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously than others. Next time you’re in a meeting try this little experiment. Take a big yawn cover your mouth out of courtesy and watch to see how many people follow suit. There’s a good chance you’ll set off a chain reaction of deep breaths and wide open mouths.
Many parts of the body are in action when you yawn. First your mouth opens and your jaw drops allowing as much air as possible to be taken in. when you inhale the air taken in fills your lungs. Your abdominal muscles flex and your diaphragm is pushed down. The air you breathe in expands the lungs to capacity and then some of the air is blown back.
If you’ve ever visited a zoo you’ve probably seen animals yawn. You might have thought yawns were a result of boredom but research has suggested that most animals do not yawn for precisely the same reasons as humans. Both humans and animals yawn to become more alert but humans tend to yawn when they are bored or sleepy. Animals yawn in anticipation of a stimulating situation. When a human feels bored or sleepy their blood flow becomes a bit sluggish and the brain gets less oxygen. As a result they yawn in order to supply the brain with extra oxygen which helps them become more alert. Most research has suggested that contrary to common belief we don’t yawn because our brains need extra oxygen but because we need to become more alert. Instead of yawning in order to help raise alertness levels during boring situations animals yawn in anticipation of exciting situations.
Courtesy Santha John is founder director coach life.
Santha.john@ coachlife asia.