Ho-Humdinger: Yawns Perk Up Brain, Professor Says

By 1994, Knight-Ridder Newspapers | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 6, 1994 | Go to article overview

Ho-Humdinger: Yawns Perk Up Brain, Professor Says


1994, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Monica Greco doesn't mind when students yawn in her psychology classes at Rowan College.

"Don't be shy about it," she tells them. "I take it as a compliment. It means at least you're trying to stay awake."

Greco is an authority on the subject. Along with Temple University psychologist Roy Baenninger, she has put in years studying yawning. They've studied fish, fowl, reptiles, mammals and the college undergrad.

They found out that giraffes never yawn. "I watched them" at the Philadelphia Zoo, Greco explains. "For about a year. No kidding."

And they have managed to improve science's understanding of yawns. "It seems to be a method of self-arousal," says Baenninger.

His main area of research is aggressive behavior, but he grew intrigued by yawning when he noticed that Siamese fighting fish, which are especially feisty animals, seemed to do it a lot.

"It turns out that predators yawn a lot more than herbivores," Baenninger explains. "Herbivores just graze. They lead placid, dull lives. Their feeding is more or less constant and pretty unexciting. Predators, on the other hand, have long, quiet periods punctuated by active, exciting periods of the hunt and kill."

Baenninger and Greco, who wrote both her master's thesis and doctoral dissertation on yawning, theorize that yawning is a way of keeping all of us predators alert - "especially when things are dull but it's dangerous or inadvisable to fall asleep . . . like driving down the interstate at night, or, say, Economics 101."

Yawning is also a way for animals in a group to warn one another not to fall asleep. Baenninger says that in packs of chimpanzees, they will take turns yawning in situations where nothing much is going on, but where it is not safe to fall asleep.

Whatever the root cause, yawning is definitely contagious.

"It's so suggestible that I found research subjects started to yawn whenever I began talking to them about it," says Greco.

Baenninger says he believes yawning may be triggered when a chemical called dopamine falls below acceptable levels in the brain. Dopamine facilitates transmission of electrical impulses across the gaps (synapses) between brain cells (neurons). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ho-Humdinger: Yawns Perk Up Brain, Professor Says
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.