Yawning

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Joepat
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Yawning

Postby Joepat » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:46 am UTC

Why is it that when you yawn, people around you yawn too? I've heard you can even get cats and dogs to do it. I'm assuming it's some sort of psychology thing. How does that work?
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Dopefish
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Re: Yawning

Postby Dopefish » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:50 am UTC

One of my psych oriented peers did a research project on that a few years back, and I believe the conclusion was that it's linked to empathy.

Theres undoubtably more details to it than that, but that's the basic conclusion that I can remember from it, as psych isn't really my thing.

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Izawwlgood
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Re: Yawning

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:14 am UTC

... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

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Kang
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Re: Yawning

Postby Kang » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:03 pm UTC

As far as I know it's one of those prehistoric instincts. A member of the group yawning signals to be tired and needing a rest, so those around him also yawn to 'pass on the word' in order to convince the group as a whole to rest rather than losing members because they fall behind.

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acai
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Re: Yawning

Postby acai » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

I'm more curious concerning the mechanism by which it spreads. I've gotten into the habit of looking around immediately after a yawn to see if I "spread" it around to try and figure out some conditions. I've noticed I've made people yawn over skype which was pretty interesting. I suppose the mirror neurons idea is a probable cause, but I've also noticed I can spread or catch a yawn without having seen another person do it. E.g. my girlfriend would yawn and I would have no idea that she had, but since she too has fallen into the habit of looking around afterward, she'll let me know triumphantly that she got me :P.

Yawns are probably the key to the universe or something.
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Izawwlgood
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Re: Yawning

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:04 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you should click on my link.
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acai
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Re: Yawning

Postby acai » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:00 pm UTC

acai wrote:I'm more curious concerning the mechanism by which it spreads. I've gotten into the habit of looking around immediately after a yawn to see if I "spread" it around to try and figure out some conditions. I've noticed I've made people yawn over skype which was pretty interesting. I suppose the mirror neurons idea is a probable cause, but I've also noticed I can spread or catch a yawn without having seen another person do it. E.g. my girlfriend would yawn and I would have no idea that she had, but since she too has fallen into the habit of looking around afterward, she'll let me know triumphantly that she got me :P.

Yawns are probably the key to the universe or something.


It seems that mirror neurons depend heavily on the imitator seeing the action. Nevertheless, still a cool article.
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Re: Yawning

Postby Coffee » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:40 pm UTC

Throughout the history of civilization there has been but one yawn; we've just been passing it around.
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Re: Yawning

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:42 pm UTC

I'm fairly certain mirror neurons fire from auditory stimuli as well.
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acai
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Re: Yawning

Postby acai » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:59 pm UTC

Yeah, you're right, upon rereading the article I found this little snippet:

Mirror neurons are believed to mediate the understanding of other animals' behavior. For example, a mirror neuron which fires when the monkey rips a piece of paper would also fire when the monkey sees a person rip paper, or hears paper ripping (without visual cues). These properties have led researchers to believe that mirror neurons encode abstract concepts of actions like 'ripping paper', whether the action is performed by the monkey or another animal.[1]


Sounds like the most plausible explanation thus far.
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Re: Yawning

Postby Plasma Mongoose » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:03 am UTC

I know that when I yawn, it stretchs my jaw, my head sinuses are affected and my neck makes a bubbling sound. I wonder if yawning isn't the equivient of stretching your back and limbs in some way.
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Re: Yawning

Postby wbeaty » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:53 am UTC

Kang wrote:As far as I know it's one of those prehistoric instincts. A member of the group yawning signals to be tired and needing a rest, so those around him also yawn to 'pass on the word' in order to convince the group as a whole to rest rather than losing members because they fall behind.


Then that explains why the sound of one opening beer bottle causes the entire tribe to rapidly obtain/open other beer bottles. One member starts dancing, and soon everyone is up on their feet as well.

All the new infants are then born 9mos after the big Equinox party.

Is the behavior beneficial? if so, then centuries of group selection would eliminate any tribe which practices drunken celebrations asyncronously. (Perhaps it would even eliminate any tribal member who dares practice asyncronous public drunkeness!)
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Moose Hole
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Re: Yawning

Postby Moose Hole » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

Yawning actually makes you more awake. It forces fast moving (and therefore cold) air through your sinuses, close to your brain, which wakes you up. The evolutionary advantage to spreading yawning is that if you're in a group that is trying to stay awake (not sleeping when they normally do), the others are reminded to stay awake and yawn in response. The reason for staying awake in a group may be because predators are near and you don't want to get eaten. [citation needed but I think I read that somewhere]


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