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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

Why is yawning contagious?

Why is yawning contagious?

Have you ever yawned right after seeing someone yawn?

It has always been said that we yawn in response "out of sympathy". In reality, the theory that leads to the phenomenon of contagious yawning is that of mirror neurons.

The studies carried out mapped the neural areas that were activated when watching videos of people yawning. What emerged is that the area most activated by reacting by yawning when seeing someone yawn is that of the superior temporal sulcus (STS), which belongs to the mirror system. Recent studies have also identified the activation of Brodmann's area 9.

From these studies it also emerged that this phenomenon is 55% contagious and that it does not belong to all species, in fact, at the moment it seems to be present only in chimpanzees, baboons and humans. In humans specifically, it seems to begin to appear only after the child's first social contacts, which we know is around the age of two.


Valentina Carlile - Osteopath expert in Osteopathy applied to voice and speech disorders since 2002. For information and reservations visit the page Contacts

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