Why Do We Yawn? It May Keep Us From Getting Hot-Headed
Yawning may activate a sinus “pump” that ventilates our brains.
In the Image: Chinese paramilitary police officers in Beijing.
Yawning may help you keep a cool head—literally, a new study suggests. The findings might hold some hope for sufferers of insomnia, migraines, and even epilepsy.
Though scientists have put forth various theories for yawning—from fatigue to lack of oxygen—none have held up to scrutiny.
“We can put a man on the moon, but we do not understand what the function of yawning is,” said study co-author Gary Hack, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore.
Now, Hack and co-author Andrew Gallup, of Princeton University, propose that yawning causes the walls of the maxillary sinus to expand and contract like a bellows, pumping air onto the brain, which lowers its temperature. Located in our cheekbones, the maxillary are the largest of four pairs of sinus cavities in the human head.
In addition to potentially solving the mystery of yawning, the study may also reveal why we have sinuses, whose existence has also stumped scientists.
It’s a “unified theory tying yawning, sinus ventilation, and brain cooling into a neat little package,” Hack said.
Ryan Soose—an ear, nose, and throat doctor as well as director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Division of Sleep Surgery—added, “The hypothesis that these two relatively unknown things may be directly related, to me, is very intriguing.”
In 2002 study co-author Hack and his team were dissecting a cadaver when they discovered that the back wall of the maxillary sinus was much thinner—and therefore more flexible—than described in many medical textbooks.
“I’d always kept that in the back of my mind, because yawning was an exaggerated jaw movement that would have an impact on this previously undescribed pump in humans,” Hack said.
Later, he came across the postdoctoral research of Princeton’s Gallup, who in 2007 had become the first to suggest the brain-cooling theory for yawning.
Yawning Theory May Influence Medicine
Overall, understanding yawning could be a useful tool for diagnosing certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy and migraines, which are both preceded by excessive yawning, the scientists say.
Published November 15, 2011
Posted on Thursday, 16 February
Tagged as: Brain Human News Science Trivia Why long read long reads yawn trivias
- pullinallthestarsabove likes this
- johannesverne likes this
- membranoproliferative reblogged this from expose-the-light
- sitawhile reblogged this from expose-the-light
- shnozdude reblogged this from expose-the-light
- pleasekeeplearning reblogged this from expose-the-light
- the-transcendent-man likes this
- ecdysozoa reblogged this from expose-the-light
- genqueue reblogged this from contemplatingmadness
- blindmen6 likes this
- contemplatingmadness reblogged this from expose-the-light
- code-pi reblogged this from expose-the-light
- diamonite likes this
- jishhd reblogged this from expose-the-light
- jeffreywlin1412 reblogged this from expose-the-light
- jeffreywlin1412 likes this
- analgesicrhymes likes this
- pleasekeeplearning likes this
- physicsmajor reblogged this from expose-the-light
- mymojosoodope likes this
- expose-the-light likes this
- ecdysozoa likes this
- drcshane reblogged this from expose-the-light
- jishhd likes this
- polymath4ever reblogged this from expose-the-light
- expose-the-light posted this