Why is yawing contagious?


peapod
#1
am sure we have all experienced it. Someone yawns when we are looking at them and in a moment or two, despite our best attempts to stiffle it, a yawn comes over us as well.

I've even yawned watching others yawn on TV.

Even reading about yawning can bring on a yawn.

So what is happening with this collective yawning business ? :P
 
peapod
#2
am sure we have all experienced it. Someone yawns when we are looking at them and in a moment or two, despite our best attempts to stiffle it, a yawn comes over us as well.

I've even yawned watching others yawn on TV.

Even reading about yawning can bring on a yawn.

So what is happening with this collective yawning business ? :P
 
peapod
#3
am sure we have all experienced it. Someone yawns when we are looking at them and in a moment or two, despite our best attempts to stiffle it, a yawn comes over us as well.

I've even yawned watching others yawn on TV.

Even reading about yawning can bring on a yawn.

So what is happening with this collective yawning business ? :P
 
NSA
#4
A PubMed search revealed this recent work:

Contagious yawning: the role of self-awareness and mental state attribution

Platek SM, Critton SR, Myers TE, Gallup GG.
Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Jul;17(2):223-7.

Contagious yawning is a common, but poorly understood phenomenon. We hypothesized that contagious yawning is part of a more general phenomenon known as mental state attribution (i.e. the ability to inferentially model the mental states of others). To test this hypothesis we compared susceptibility to contagiously yawn with performance on a self-face recognition task, several theory of mind stories, and on a measure of schizotypal personality traits. Consistent with the hypothesis, susceptibility to contagiously yawn was positively related to performance on self-face recognition and faux pas theory of mind stories, and negatively related to schizotypal personality traits. These data suggest that contagious yawning may be associated with empathic aspects of mental state attribution and are negatively affected by increases in schizotypal personality traits much like other self-processing related tasks.
PMID: 12880893


Yearning to yawn: the neural basis of contagious yawning

Schurmann M, Hesse MD, Stephan KE, Saarela M, Zilles K, Hari R, Fink GR.
Neuroimage. 2005 Feb 15;24(4):1260-4.

Yawning is contagious: Watching another person yawn may trigger us to do the same. Here we studied brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects watched videotaped yawns. Significant increases in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal, specific to yawn viewing as contrasted to viewing non-nameable mouth movements, were observed in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and bilaterally in the anterior STS, in agreement with the high affinity of STS to social cues. However, no additional yawn-specific activation was observed in Broca's area, the core region of the human mirror-neuron system (MNS) that matches action observation and execution. Thus, activation associated with viewing another person yawn seems to circumvent the essential parts of the MNS, in line with the nature of contagious yawns as automatically released behavioural acts-rather than truly imitated motor patterns that would require detailed action understanding. The subjects' self-reported tendency to yawn covaried negatively with activation of the left periamygdalar region, suggesting a connection between yawn contagiousness and amygdalar activation.
PMID: 15670705

I'm at home without full-text access to these articles, and IANAP, but what I gleaned from these abstracts was

1. Contagious yawning may require an ability to empathize with the other yawner's mental/emotional state
2. ... but it is not a specific mimicry response (the way one mimics another's hand gestures and posture while on a date?)
3. It may be a hard-coded behavioural response specific to yawning?

Like I said, I am not a psychologist, and those last two are pretty shaky but that's what I understood. I was unable to find any information on "dating mimicry" on the web either, it's just something I heard once.

This news story (external - login to view) may be more helpful, though I was unable to find the published study (by Baenninger) referred to.
 
NSA
#5
A PubMed search revealed this recent work:

Contagious yawning: the role of self-awareness and mental state attribution

Platek SM, Critton SR, Myers TE, Gallup GG.
Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Jul;17(2):223-7.

Contagious yawning is a common, but poorly understood phenomenon. We hypothesized that contagious yawning is part of a more general phenomenon known as mental state attribution (i.e. the ability to inferentially model the mental states of others). To test this hypothesis we compared susceptibility to contagiously yawn with performance on a self-face recognition task, several theory of mind stories, and on a measure of schizotypal personality traits. Consistent with the hypothesis, susceptibility to contagiously yawn was positively related to performance on self-face recognition and faux pas theory of mind stories, and negatively related to schizotypal personality traits. These data suggest that contagious yawning may be associated with empathic aspects of mental state attribution and are negatively affected by increases in schizotypal personality traits much like other self-processing related tasks.
PMID: 12880893


Yearning to yawn: the neural basis of contagious yawning

Schurmann M, Hesse MD, Stephan KE, Saarela M, Zilles K, Hari R, Fink GR.
Neuroimage. 2005 Feb 15;24(4):1260-4.

Yawning is contagious: Watching another person yawn may trigger us to do the same. Here we studied brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects watched videotaped yawns. Significant increases in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal, specific to yawn viewing as contrasted to viewing non-nameable mouth movements, were observed in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and bilaterally in the anterior STS, in agreement with the high affinity of STS to social cues. However, no additional yawn-specific activation was observed in Broca's area, the core region of the human mirror-neuron system (MNS) that matches action observation and execution. Thus, activation associated with viewing another person yawn seems to circumvent the essential parts of the MNS, in line with the nature of contagious yawns as automatically released behavioural acts-rather than truly imitated motor patterns that would require detailed action understanding. The subjects' self-reported tendency to yawn covaried negatively with activation of the left periamygdalar region, suggesting a connection between yawn contagiousness and amygdalar activation.
PMID: 15670705

I'm at home without full-text access to these articles, and IANAP, but what I gleaned from these abstracts was

1. Contagious yawning may require an ability to empathize with the other yawner's mental/emotional state
2. ... but it is not a specific mimicry response (the way one mimics another's hand gestures and posture while on a date?)
3. It may be a hard-coded behavioural response specific to yawning?

Like I said, I am not a psychologist, and those last two are pretty shaky but that's what I understood. I was unable to find any information on "dating mimicry" on the web either, it's just something I heard once.

This news story (external - login to view) may be more helpful, though I was unable to find the published study (by Baenninger) referred to.
 
NSA
#6
A PubMed search revealed this recent work:

Contagious yawning: the role of self-awareness and mental state attribution

Platek SM, Critton SR, Myers TE, Gallup GG.
Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Jul;17(2):223-7.

Contagious yawning is a common, but poorly understood phenomenon. We hypothesized that contagious yawning is part of a more general phenomenon known as mental state attribution (i.e. the ability to inferentially model the mental states of others). To test this hypothesis we compared susceptibility to contagiously yawn with performance on a self-face recognition task, several theory of mind stories, and on a measure of schizotypal personality traits. Consistent with the hypothesis, susceptibility to contagiously yawn was positively related to performance on self-face recognition and faux pas theory of mind stories, and negatively related to schizotypal personality traits. These data suggest that contagious yawning may be associated with empathic aspects of mental state attribution and are negatively affected by increases in schizotypal personality traits much like other self-processing related tasks.
PMID: 12880893


Yearning to yawn: the neural basis of contagious yawning

Schurmann M, Hesse MD, Stephan KE, Saarela M, Zilles K, Hari R, Fink GR.
Neuroimage. 2005 Feb 15;24(4):1260-4.

Yawning is contagious: Watching another person yawn may trigger us to do the same. Here we studied brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects watched videotaped yawns. Significant increases in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal, specific to yawn viewing as contrasted to viewing non-nameable mouth movements, were observed in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and bilaterally in the anterior STS, in agreement with the high affinity of STS to social cues. However, no additional yawn-specific activation was observed in Broca's area, the core region of the human mirror-neuron system (MNS) that matches action observation and execution. Thus, activation associated with viewing another person yawn seems to circumvent the essential parts of the MNS, in line with the nature of contagious yawns as automatically released behavioural acts-rather than truly imitated motor patterns that would require detailed action understanding. The subjects' self-reported tendency to yawn covaried negatively with activation of the left periamygdalar region, suggesting a connection between yawn contagiousness and amygdalar activation.
PMID: 15670705

I'm at home without full-text access to these articles, and IANAP, but what I gleaned from these abstracts was

1. Contagious yawning may require an ability to empathize with the other yawner's mental/emotional state
2. ... but it is not a specific mimicry response (the way one mimics another's hand gestures and posture while on a date?)
3. It may be a hard-coded behavioural response specific to yawning?

Like I said, I am not a psychologist, and those last two are pretty shaky but that's what I understood. I was unable to find any information on "dating mimicry" on the web either, it's just something I heard once.

This news story (external - login to view) may be more helpful, though I was unable to find the published study (by Baenninger) referred to.
 
Dexter Sinister
#7
I read that to mean nobody really knows why yawning is contagious, but there are some plausible suggestions around. There's a little less jargon-ridden explanation here faculty.washington.edu/chudler/yawnc.html (external - login to view) which comes to essentially the same conclusion.

In some primates, baboons in particular, yawning is clearly a dominance display, and other members of the pack are seen to produce smaller yawns in response to some dominant critter's big display of teeth, as if it's an acknowledgement: "Yep, yours are bigger than mine, boss." Maybe in humans it used to be the same thing, but now it's just an old pathway in our brains that's still there but no longer serves any real purpose. People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Idle speculation. But it's fun.
 
Dexter Sinister
#8
I read that to mean nobody really knows why yawning is contagious, but there are some plausible suggestions around. There's a little less jargon-ridden explanation here faculty.washington.edu/chudler/yawnc.html (external - login to view) which comes to essentially the same conclusion.

In some primates, baboons in particular, yawning is clearly a dominance display, and other members of the pack are seen to produce smaller yawns in response to some dominant critter's big display of teeth, as if it's an acknowledgement: "Yep, yours are bigger than mine, boss." Maybe in humans it used to be the same thing, but now it's just an old pathway in our brains that's still there but no longer serves any real purpose. People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Idle speculation. But it's fun.
 
Dexter Sinister
#9
I read that to mean nobody really knows why yawning is contagious, but there are some plausible suggestions around. There's a little less jargon-ridden explanation here faculty.washington.edu/chudler/yawnc.html (external - login to view) which comes to essentially the same conclusion.

In some primates, baboons in particular, yawning is clearly a dominance display, and other members of the pack are seen to produce smaller yawns in response to some dominant critter's big display of teeth, as if it's an acknowledgement: "Yep, yours are bigger than mine, boss." Maybe in humans it used to be the same thing, but now it's just an old pathway in our brains that's still there but no longer serves any real purpose. People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Idle speculation. But it's fun.
 
peapod
#10
I never expected such answers
People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Now that is interesting, the display threat, I never would have thought that.
 
peapod
#11
I never expected such answers
People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Now that is interesting, the display threat, I never would have thought that.
 
peapod
#12
I never expected such answers
People tend to cover their mouths with a hand when they yawn, at least in the circles I move in, and often excuse themselves, which is like disarming a potential threat display.

Now that is interesting, the display threat, I never would have thought that.
 
Paranoid Dot Calm
#13
I yawned when reading this.

Yawning: its cycles, its roles
March 2004
(PDF Document)
webperso.easyconnect.fr/baill...sh/yawning.pdf (external - login to view)
 
Paranoid Dot Calm
#14
I yawned when reading this.

Yawning: its cycles, its roles
March 2004
(PDF Document)
webperso.easyconnect.fr/baill...sh/yawning.pdf (external - login to view)
 
Paranoid Dot Calm
#15
I yawned when reading this.

Yawning: its cycles, its roles
March 2004
(PDF Document)
webperso.easyconnect.fr/baill...sh/yawning.pdf (external - login to view)
 
Twila
#16
Think the empathy angle works the same for people who laugh when other people are laughing even if they don't know why the other people are laughing?

I laughed with a parrot at the petstore when it was mimicking laughter. What's that mean? I empathize far too much?
 
Twila
#17
Think the empathy angle works the same for people who laugh when other people are laughing even if they don't know why the other people are laughing?

I laughed with a parrot at the petstore when it was mimicking laughter. What's that mean? I empathize far too much?
 
Twila
#18
Think the empathy angle works the same for people who laugh when other people are laughing even if they don't know why the other people are laughing?

I laughed with a parrot at the petstore when it was mimicking laughter. What's that mean? I empathize far too much?
 
Dexter Sinister
#19
Interesting document there Calm, if you can get past the unfamiliar jargon and the dry-as-dust academic style, but it doesn't answer the original question about why yawning is contagious. It concludes only that it's some sort of imitative behaviour unique to humans, which amounts to no more than acknowledging that it happens.

Odd, that, I distinctly remember seeing film of a baboon troop doing it too, and it clearly started as a threat display by the dominant male. I also clearly remember reading about researchers dealing with chimps and gorillas having to be very careful about smiling, because a display of teeth, even crummy little ones like we have, they often interpret as a threatening gesture.

Ah, maybe my memory is fooling me. It's done that before. But we're still back where we started: nobody knows.
 
Dexter Sinister
#20
Interesting document there Calm, if you can get past the unfamiliar jargon and the dry-as-dust academic style, but it doesn't answer the original question about why yawning is contagious. It concludes only that it's some sort of imitative behaviour unique to humans, which amounts to no more than acknowledging that it happens.

Odd, that, I distinctly remember seeing film of a baboon troop doing it too, and it clearly started as a threat display by the dominant male. I also clearly remember reading about researchers dealing with chimps and gorillas having to be very careful about smiling, because a display of teeth, even crummy little ones like we have, they often interpret as a threatening gesture.

Ah, maybe my memory is fooling me. It's done that before. But we're still back where we started: nobody knows.
 
Dexter Sinister
#21
Interesting document there Calm, if you can get past the unfamiliar jargon and the dry-as-dust academic style, but it doesn't answer the original question about why yawning is contagious. It concludes only that it's some sort of imitative behaviour unique to humans, which amounts to no more than acknowledging that it happens.

Odd, that, I distinctly remember seeing film of a baboon troop doing it too, and it clearly started as a threat display by the dominant male. I also clearly remember reading about researchers dealing with chimps and gorillas having to be very careful about smiling, because a display of teeth, even crummy little ones like we have, they often interpret as a threatening gesture.

Ah, maybe my memory is fooling me. It's done that before. But we're still back where we started: nobody knows.
 
edgerunner
#22
I know the real answer!!!
^^^^^As we all must have found out, along the way, humans need oxygen to live. When we are not breathing in the correct manner to get good air(oxygen) in, our brains tell us to yawn, which pulls a great big breath in.
So, in many cases, such as being tired and not breathing correctly, or slouching, or after eating too much, we need a good yawn to get some air.
Put a bunch of half-asleep, people in an unventilated room and they will all start yawning to get the oxygen in the room.
Try this sometime if you are having a Yawn-attack. Stick head out window and take 7 deep breaths. It will stop. I Guarantee it.
Enough about all these mentle-related reasons,
ITS THE AIR, DUDES!!!^^^^^^^
 
edgerunner
#23
I know the real answer!!!
^^^^^As we all must have found out, along the way, humans need oxygen to live. When we are not breathing in the correct manner to get good air(oxygen) in, our brains tell us to yawn, which pulls a great big breath in.
So, in many cases, such as being tired and not breathing correctly, or slouching, or after eating too much, we need a good yawn to get some air.
Put a bunch of half-asleep, people in an unventilated room and they will all start yawning to get the oxygen in the room.
Try this sometime if you are having a Yawn-attack. Stick head out window and take 7 deep breaths. It will stop. I Guarantee it.
Enough about all these mentle-related reasons,
ITS THE AIR, DUDES!!!^^^^^^^
 
edgerunner
#24
I know the real answer!!!
^^^^^As we all must have found out, along the way, humans need oxygen to live. When we are not breathing in the correct manner to get good air(oxygen) in, our brains tell us to yawn, which pulls a great big breath in.
So, in many cases, such as being tired and not breathing correctly, or slouching, or after eating too much, we need a good yawn to get some air.
Put a bunch of half-asleep, people in an unventilated room and they will all start yawning to get the oxygen in the room.
Try this sometime if you are having a Yawn-attack. Stick head out window and take 7 deep breaths. It will stop. I Guarantee it.
Enough about all these mentle-related reasons,
ITS THE AIR, DUDES!!!^^^^^^^
 
peapod
#25
thanks^^^^^^^^^^^
 
peapod
#26
thanks^^^^^^^^^^^
 
peapod
#27
thanks^^^^^^^^^^^
 
EmmaDibbs
#28
I'm yawning now!! A bit too cold to stick my head out the window...besides I'd have to get up to do that and why would I want to when I've got a nice cup of tea that needs drinking!
 
EmmaDibbs
#29
I'm yawning now!! A bit too cold to stick my head out the window...besides I'd have to get up to do that and why would I want to when I've got a nice cup of tea that needs drinking!
 
EmmaDibbs
#30
I'm yawning now!! A bit too cold to stick my head out the window...besides I'd have to get up to do that and why would I want to when I've got a nice cup of tea that needs drinking!
 
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