Yawning is an extremely contagious behavior. Image Credit: sxc.hu
The conventional idea that yawning is a sign of tiredness or boredom is now thought to be incorrect.
Instead, yawning may actually be about regulating the temperature of the brain. Like a computer, the brain operates best within a certain range of temperatures and when it gets too hot a good yawn can help to cool it down, promoting clearer thinking.
Conventionally associated with tiredness, yawning was long thought to be a way for the body to help wake itself up using a sudden jolt of oxygen. While it is true that yawning occurs more frequently when we are tired, this may be because being tired and exhausted can raise the brain's temperature, leading to more frequent yawning in order to help cool it down.
These conclusions have also been carried across to the phenomenon of contagious yawning. In the case of a pack of animals for instance, yawning can help to keep the whole pack alert by having members subconsciously yawn when they observe one of the others doing it.
Yawning is so contagious in fact that even reading about it can induce yawning. It is quite likely that you've yawned at least once yourself while you were reading this article.
Source: Independent | Comments (20)