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Home Industry News New insights into contagious yawning ‘could offer wider medical benefits’

New insights into contagious yawning ‘could offer wider medical benefits’

1st September 2017

Scientists have revealed new insights into the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders by assessing why people feel the need to yawn when they see others doing so.

The University of Nottingham research aimed to assess contagious yawning as a form of echophenomena, a trend that results in automatic imitative actions without explicit awareness of what is happening.

It was shown that people's ability to resist yawning when someone else does is limited, as doing so actually increases the urge to yawn. Using electrical stimulation, researchers were able to increase excitability among subjects, and in doing so increased their propensity for contagious yawning.

This provided the team with an important insight into a wide range of clinical conditions that have been linked to increased cortical excitability or decreased physiological inhibition, such as epilepsy, dementia, autism and Tourette syndrome.

Stephen Jackson, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the university's school of psychology, said: "If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders, we can potentially reverse them."

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