Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Yawning is contagious.

Like contagious laughter and contagious crying, scientists have theorized that contagious yawning is a shared experience that promotes social bonding.

If one has ever seen someone in close proximity yawn, then one may note the distinct feeling or urge to yawn as well. It is true that between 40-60% of people will automatically find yawning contagious and yawn themselves. The standard answers from scientists as to why people find yawning contagious used to be, “We don’t know, but we have some theories.” Research conducted in 2005 by Finnish scientists, however, may point to preliminary reasons why some find yawning contagious.
When one witnesses someone else yawning, one has a mostly unconscious urge to yawn. People may become conscious of the urge, but scientists suggest the beginning of the yearn to yawn is unconscious. This means that the signal to yawn must bypass a response called the mirror neuron system, which would render yawning in response to someone else a conscious and imitative act. Scientists have often, in the past, suggested that the mirror neuron system causes yawning.

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