Is Yawning Uncontrollable and Contagious?

Yawns Are Contagious 769

Hanging out with Steve Platek will make you yawn. He’ll get you thinking about yawning, reading about yawning, and sooner or later, your mouth’s gaping. You can’t help it. “My favorite way to induce a yawn,” Platek says, “is a video clip of a good yawner paired with yawn audio.” Platek, a cognitive neuroscientist at Drexel University, alternately describes yawning as “a primitive unconscious mechanism” or something that’s “sweet,” “totally cool” or “awesome.” And he’s finally figuring out why it’s contagious.
Scientists (and everybody else) have known for decades that yawns are contagious, but they’ve never known why. Some think it’s an unconscious mirror effect – someone yawns, you yawn in response almost like a reflex. But Platek says he thinks it has to do with empathy. The way he sees it, the more empathetic you are, the more likely it is that you’ll identify with a yawner and experience a yawn yourself. In a recent study, Platek looked at contagious yawning in people with “high empathy,” “low empathy” and everything in between. He found that higher empathy meant more yawn-susceptible and lower empathy meant more yawn-immune.
But that wasn’t proof enough. So Platek put volunteers in M.R.I. machines and made them yawn again and again to pinpoint the areas of the brain involved. When their brains lighted up in the exact regions of the brain involved in empathy, Platek remembers thinking, “Wow, this is so cool!”
Some yawning researchers – of which there are few – have identified many types of yawns. There’s the contagious yawn, the I’m-tired yawn and the I-just-woke-up yawn. There’s the threat yawn, which is the my-teeth-are-bigger-than-yours yawn that’s so popular with primates. (“People do it, too,” says Platek, “but unfortunately, we don’t have scary teeth anymore.”) There’s also the sexual yawn. (One scientist claims that yawns are used in seduction.)
At some point, you have to wonder: why study yawning? It’s quirky, interesting, but not important, right? Wrong, says Platek. Nearly every species on the planet yawns: insects, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals. “Yawning is such a primitive neurological function,” Platek says, “it’s a window into what happened during the evolution of the brain.”
The good thing about yawning is that it’s not boring. “Scientists like me usually go to conferences and give talks about technical mumbo jumbo,” Platek says. “The audience always yawns, and we’re up there thinking, Oh, man, they’re so bored! But when I give a talk about yawning and they yawn, I think: Sweet! They’re paying attention!”

Several years ago, I took a remarkable psychology class from a professor whose interest in the field seemed to be motivated, at least in part, by a desire to unearth new tricks for beguiling the opposite sex. Ethical implications aside, his lectures were generously garnished with anecdotes that held his wide-eyed freshmen audience in rapt attention. Among the tips he shared was a psychologically based method for casually gauging just who might be checking you out in a crowded place: yawning. The theory goes that if you yawn, anyone who’s surreptitiously watching you won’t be able to resist yawning too, giving themselves away (and marking them as a susceptible target for wooing). (Pics) Continue reading… “Is Yawning Uncontrollable and Contagious?”

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Muslim Women Complain That Veils Increase Harassment

Muslim Women Complain That Veils Increase Harassment

The stricter the rules, the goofier the women appear

In a Muslim country where the numbers of women wearing the veil are rising, and so — by most accounts — are incidents of groping and catcalls in the streets, the message in ads circulating anonymously in e-mails in Egypt is clear:

“A veil to protect, or eyes will molest,” one warns.

The words sit over two illustrations, one comparing a veiled woman, her hair and neck covered in the manner known to Muslims as hijab, to a wrapped candy, untouched and pure. (Pics)

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Women Shifting to Cyber Sex

Women Shifting to Cyber Sex

Future sex may be all about getting wired up right

Sex is not just confined to the bedroom anymore, as many women have found a sex haven in the virtual world.

One in five Aussie women have admitted to having a sexual encounter in an internet chatroom, reveals a new survey. Conducted by author Joan Sauers for her new book Sex Lives of Australian Women , the survey questioned nearly 2000 women from around the country.

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Study: Women Prefer Men with Stubble

 Study: Women Prefer Men with Stubble

Jason Statham – Stubble beards are in…

Researchers in Britain have found that women are more attracted to men with stubbly chins than those with clean-shaven faces or full beards – in fact, the fair sex prefers them for love, sex and marriage. According to the researchers, stubbly men offer women the best worlds – not too strongly masculine, but mature and with the potential to grow a full beard, British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph reported.

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