When people lack real facts concerning some issues, they develop mythical theories which aim at accounting for them. These speculations are based on religion, culture, and misconceived understanding which aim at closing the gap that exists when those issues are not explained. Often, the speculations and mythical theories are not challenged by laymen. Instead, they follow and believe in those theories until professionals challenge them.
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Professionals identify the real facts that lead to occurrence of eventualities based on factual evidence that can be proofed by scientific, statistical, and mathematical means of determination. In this light, they carry out detailed research on the issues, analyze the results, and make relevant conclusions regarding them. This paper aims at reviewing relevant literature in order to obtain factual explanations on yawning which is a behavior that has created profound contention.
Facts about Yawning
The biological researches suggest that human system, which is one of the most complicated systems, has various ways of regulating temperature, pressure and other factors of the body. In fact, it suggests that human body has mechanisms that keep all these factors at optimum levels so that they are maintained at a desirable range. In light of this regulation, the brain plays a crucial role when initiating the regulatory function.
In this case, biologists argue that yawning is a crucial regulatory function which aims at regulating the temperature of the body (Donhoffer 435). This holistic process, which involves other mechanisms besides yawning, is often referred to as thermoregulation. It was discovered that differences in ambient temperatures affected the frequency of yawning.
In an investigation regarding yawning behavior, a cold pack of ice was put on the forehead of a girl. In this instance, the girl yawned for 45 percent of experimentation period. In the second instance, a glass of warm water was placed on the forehead where the percentage of yawning reduced to 10 percent. This indicated that high temperature increased yawning while low temperature reduced frequency of yawning (Gonzaga 199).
While explaining this observation, scientists argued that human brain needs a lot of energy to coordinate the body. When ambient temperatures increase, the brain temperature rises quicker than other parts of the body. It, therefore, initiates yawning where the mouth takes a considerably big gulp of air and jaws stretch. When the jaws stretch they increase the amount of blood flowing to the brain through the dense network of blood vessels which are found in the nasal cavity.
At the same time, it enables the mouth to take a gulp of air that moves above the blood vessels reducing the temperature of the blood which is flowing on the vessels towards the brain. As a result, the temperature of the brain reduces since it receives considerably cold blood in that process. When the ambient temperatures reduce, the brain aims at retaining heat and minimizing heat loss to the environment.
Therefore, frequency of yawning is reduced to avoid intensive flow of air to the nasal cavity. Otherwise, gulping air could lead to reduction of blood temperature and subsequent reduction of brain temperatures. This could lead to fatal breakdown of the brain, which is a critical part of the body, since it coordinates most responses. In fact, the mechanism of yawning is initiated by the hypothalamus that is found in the rear part of the human brain.
The same occurrence was evident in an experiment which was conducted on a mouse by fluctuating ambient temperatures. This, therefore, implies that yawning occurs in order to regulate temperatures in the body as a thermoregulatory mechanism.
It explains why people yawn before going to bed, when they are hungry, and when they are sleepy. In this case, it is noted that these factors are related to increase in ambient temperature. Scientists argue that the body increases the level of temperature before sleeping since it struggles to stay awake.
The same occurrence is noted when a person has woken up since the temperatures increase forcing the hypothalamus to initiate yawning. People have been arguing that yawning is caused by hunger, slumber, and tiredness among other things. However, this research demonstrates that hunger, slumber, and tiredness are not the causative agents of the yawning behavior. Instead, they increase temperature which causes yawning in order to regulate temperatures.
Mimicry of Animals
It is, also, evident that a person might yawn when he looks at another person who is yawning in the neighborhood. In fact, the above investigation concerning thermoregulation included a video of people who were yawning (Gormley 126). Thess participants were treated to the video enabling researchers to note the frequency of yawning in different conditions.
This shows that yawning is triggered when people look at their colleagues who might be yawning. In this light, psychologists argue that human beings exhibit an attribute which enable them to empathize with others and share emotions. When people look at others who are crying, they tend to act in the same way to empathize with them.
Therefore, it follows that social animal that includes human beings tend to yawn when others yawn in order to empathize with them. Some researchers argue that human beings yawn even when they see videos and photos of people who are yawning. Further, they suggest that most incidences of yawning are found in highly empathetic people. Moreover, this contagious yawning is observed in animals that are related to human beings as well as the ones that portray social life including chimpanzees and bonobobs.
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This proofs that yawning is a reflection of empathetic characteristic which lies in the mind. Animals that do not have the attribute of empathy are not affected by contagious yawning. It, therefore, means that contagious yawning emanates from the attribute of empathy. Empathy is an attribute that teaches people to create meaning which activates the brain to act in a manner correspondent to stimuli (Zinoviev 176).
It is evident that yawning is an occurrence that is experienced by human beings, domestic animals, and wild animals among others. It has been noted that people have developed various myths that explain why animal yawn.
However, most of these theories are not based on factual evidences that are derived from scientific as well as experimental investigations. Instead, they are based on conclusions which are made as a result of observing the conditions that are mostly related to yawning. These conditions include slumber, hunger, and tiredness among others (Provine 143).
However, it is undisputable that yawning is a thermoregulatory mechanism which helps the brain to maintain optimum temperature in the brain as well as entire body. Lastly, contagious yawning is caused by acts of empathy which are exhibited by social animals including human beings, chimpanzees, and bonobos among other animals.
Donhoffer, SzilaÌrd. Homeothermia of the brain: cerebral blood flow, metabolic rate, and brain temperature in the cold : the possible role of neuroglia. Budapest: AkadeÌmiai KiadoÌ, 1980. Print.
Gonzaga, Crescenciano. The yawning gap. Quezon City: New Day Publishers ;, 1991. Print.
Gormley, Greg. The yawning game. London: Gullane Children’s Books, 2006. Print.
Provine, Robert R.. Curious behavior: yawning, laughing, hiccupping, and beyond. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012. Print.
Zinoviev, Aleksandr. The yawning heights. New York: Random House, 1979. Print.