The science behind why yawning is contagious
Whether you’re tired, bored, or see someone else do it, we all yawn. But the yawning when you’re tired scenario makes sense. What about seeing someone else yawn?
In a new study, researchers from the University of Nottingham looked at the brain to determine what makes yawning contagious.
The BBC reports it happens in the part of the brain that controls motor function.
The contagious part is actually a form of echophenomena, when you imitate someone uncontrollably.
In order to take a closer look, researchers monitored 36 participants as they watched other people yawn. Turns out it comes down to each person’s excitability.
When scientists increased the excitability by using external transcranial magnetic stimulation, the contagious yawning also increased.
So why is this important? After all it’s just a yawn right.
The same imitation phenomenon is also seen in people with Tourette syndrome. So this same type of stimulation could be used to help people decrease ticks.
According to the BBC, previous studies suggesting contagious yawning shows how empathetic you are may not be that concrete.
And here we thought we were all just super nice people.