What Do YOU Do When You See Someone Yawn?

Quick.  What happens when you see someone yawn?  Chances are, you'll yawn, too.

Studies in the past suggested it was because we felt empathy for the person doing the yawning.  But a new one that's just out says that's really not the case.

Contagious yawning occurs not only in humans, but also in chimpanzees and other animals, in response to hearing about, seeing or thinking about yawning.
In 2013, Medical News Today (MNT) reported on a study in dogs, which suggested that the contagious yawns dogs get from their owners are a result of empathy rather than stress, according to the publication.
Researchers say this phenomenon "differs from spontaneous yawning, in that it does not occur merely when someone is tired or bored. While spontaneous yawning is observed in the womb, contagious yawning begins in early childhood," MNT reports.
And though yawning seems like a trivial human action, by better understanding the biological mechanisms involved in contagious yawning, researchers say it could provide better insight into disorders such as schizophrenia or autism.
Why are certain people more or less susceptible to contagious yawning?  No one really knows. Researchers from this study say previous studies have shown a relationship between contagious yawning and empathy, but also a connection to intelligence or time of day.
But here's an interesting point: the older you are, the less likely you are to yawn.  Scientists don't know why this happens, either (we're certainly more tired!).  But I guess yawning will down in the annals of medicine as just another thing that happens all the time but that, in the end, doesn't mean much of anything!


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