Some say a yawn is a “silent scream for coffee”. While many of us will agree with this logic, a yawn is much more than a signal of sleepiness. I’m not talking about the “dog-tired I need to go to bed” yawn. I’m talking about the one that comes out of the blue, even when you’re fully energized but you can’t seem to figure out how your mouth ended up wide open. I’m talking the contagious yawn. The one that can take control of an entire group of people without anyone even realizing it’s happening.
The contagious yawn continues to be a scientific mystery, but the theories are intriguing. The most commonly debated one is the connection between the contagious yawn and empathy.
As children, we develop a sense of empathy, which is the ability to connect with another’s emotional state. This is a cognitive development learned through our parents and how much empathy they show. Through brain imaging, scientists found that contagious yawning is associated with the same part of the brain that deals with empathy.
Chances are, you have yawned at least once while reading this article. The contagious yawn is not only infecting you through seeing someone physically yawn, but also when you read or think about it.
Overall, the reason we catch a contagious yawn is still a mystery, but we know it is a true phenomenon. For all of you yawn inducing, coffee addicts, this week’s background is for you.
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