Genius Hour 3.0
Is yawning contagious?
What are the facts?
-Yawning when others yawn, the study suggests, is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding. Kids don't develop this deeply rooted behavior until around age four, the study found. Kids with autism are half as likely to catch yawns. In the most severe cases, they never do.
-Contagious yawning, however, is different from spontaneous yawning.
-Fetuses begin yawning in the womb as early as 11 weeks after conception. For reasons scientists still can't explain, spontaneous yawning continues throughout life.
-In fact, all vertebrates yawn spontaneously, including snakes and lizards.
-The researchers at Duke are planning to study potential genetic influences that contribute to contagious yawning. Their long-term goal is to identify the genetic basis of contagious yawning as a way to better understand human diseases like schizophrenia and autism, as well as general human functioning.
-Ultimately, contagious yawning remains an unexplained mystery to scientists.
-Because kids with autism and other diseases will not always contract a yawn for someone or something else.