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Why is yawning contagious?  P.H.

If you dont think YAWNING is contagious, see if you YAWN by the time you9re done reading this explanation of YAWNING. First, lets dispel a myth. You dont yawn to take in extra oxygen. Thats been rejected in lab tests, says YAWN expert Robert Provine, professor of psychology at the University of Marylands Baltimore County campus. He had test subjects breathe air with extra oxygen. For others, he reduced the oxygen intake by giving them air high in carbon dioxide. Neither caused more or less YAWNING.

(YAWN. YAWN. YAWN.) Provine says we YAWN when were changing states of activity. Going from sleep to wakefulness, like YAWNING in the morning. Or wakefulness to sleep. (He says we YAWN more in the morning when we wake up, by the way.)

Concert pianists will YAWN before going out to an important performance. Olympic athletes YAWN before the big event. Embryos begin YAWNING eleven weeks after conception, Provine notes. He says YAWNING is somehow connected to changing levels of body activity, changes from one state to another, like inactive to active or vice versa, but nobody understands just what the connection is.

It probably helps stir up the blood and brain chemistry to facilitate those transitions from one level of activity to another.

Why? YAWNING is ancient and autonomic, Provine says. Maybe its to get everyone in the tribe to synchronize their states of activity, to increase the success of the tribe if everyones working together. We really dont know. (YAWN. YAWN. YAWN)

YAWNING is highly contagious, he says. Every vertebrate species YAWNS. Fish YAWN. Birds YAWN. Alligators YAWN. But Provine says its apparently only contagious in humans. Provine has made test subjects YAWN by showing them a YAWNING face. Interestingly, if he shows them just the YAWNING mouth, it doesnt trigger the YAWNING. If he covers the mouth, and shows them just the nose and eyes of the YAWNING face, it does. Hes made subjects YAWN by talking about YAWNING, or asking the test subjects to think about YAWNING, or by having them read about YAWNING. Yawning yet?

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 07, 2000


Zzzzzzzzzzzzz..... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... (snort) Wha'? Yeah, cream cheese..... Zzzzzzzzzzzz..... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), July 07, 2000.


Does a fawning fawn yawn at dawn?

Does a tawny prawn yawn on a soggy lawn?

Does a drawn, yawning faun pawn an awning?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), July 07, 2000.

Are yawning pawns spawned? Inquiring minds want to know!

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), July 07, 2000.

Yes, if they are sawn and laundered.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), July 07, 2000.

I like the idea of yawning as transition,,,,, ever stretch your jaw, rotate the muscles?....very relaxing.... the jaws stores tension because of its role as a body part.

-- Will (righthere@home.now), July 07, 2000.

Yawning is a meme.

-- (yes@it.is), July 08, 2000.

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