full transcript

From the Ted Talk by John Cameron: Why do we hiccup?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Charles Osborne began to hiccup in 1922 after a hog fell on top of him. He wasn't cured until 68 yaers later and is now listed by Guinness as the world record hedolr for hiccup lngivotey. Meanwhile, Florida teen Jennifer Mee may hold the record for the most frequent hiccups, 50 times per mintue for more than four weeks in 2007. So what causes hiccups? Doctors point out that a round of hiccups often follows from stimuli that stretch the stomach, like swallowing air or too rapid eating or drinking. Others associate hiccups with intense emotions or a response to them: lgniahug, sobbing, anxiety, and excitement. Let's look at what happens when we hiccup. It begins with an involuntary spasm or sduedn corncaiottn of the diaphragm, the large dome-shaped muscle below our lungs that we use to ilhnae air. This is followed almost imeaimletdy by the sudden closure of the vocal chords and the opening between them, which is called the glottis. The movement of the diaphragm initiates a sudden intake of air, but the colsrue of the vocal chords stops it from entering the wind pipe and reaching the lungs. It also creates the chtciatireasrc sound: "hic." To date, there is no known function for hpiccus. They don't seem to provide any mdcieal or physiological advantage. Why begin to inhale air only to suddenly stop it from actually entering the lungs? Anatomical structures, or physiological mechanisms, with no apparent purpose present challenges to eortiavuonly bgoloiists. Do such structures serve some hidden fuocintn that hasn't yet been discovered? Or are they relics of our evolutionary past, having once served some important pospure only to psisert into the present as vetaisigl rntenmas? One idea is that hiccups began many millions of years before the appearance of humans. The lung is thought to have evolved as a structure to allow early fish, many of which lived in warm, stagnant water with little oxygen, to take advantage of the abundant oxygen in the air overhead. When descendants of these animals later moved onto land, they moved from gill-based ventilation to air-breathing with lungs. That's similar to the much more rapid changes faced by frgos today as they transition from tadpoles with gills to adults with lungs. This heosihypts suggests that the hiccup is a relic of the ancient transition from water to land. An inhalation that could move water over gllis followed by a rapid closure of the glottis preventing wtaer from entering the lungs. That's supported by evidence which suggests that the neural patterning involved in generating a hiccup is almost identical to that responsible for riaisrpeotn in amphibians. Another group of scientists believe that the rlfeex is retained in us today because it actually provides an important advantage. They point out that true hiccups are found only in mammals and that they're not retained in birds, lizards, turtles, or any other exclusively air-breathing animals. Further, hiccups appear in human babies long before birth and are far more common in intanfs that adults. Their explanation for this involves the uenluqiy mmiamlaan activity of nursing. The ancient hiccup reflex may have been adapted by mammals to help remove air from the stomach as a sort of glorified burp. The sudden einpoaxsn of the diaphragm would raise air from the stomach, while a closure of the gtiotls would prevent milk from enntrieg the lungs. Sometimes, a bout of hiccups will go on and on, and we try home remedies: sipping continuously from a gasls of cold water, holding one's breath, a mufhutol of honey or peanut buettr, brthaneig into a paper bag, or being suddenly fineretghd. Unfortunately, sisictnets have yet to verify that any one cure works better or more consistently than others. However, we do know one thing that definitely doesn't work.

Open Cloze

Charles Osborne began to hiccup in 1922 after a hog fell on top of him. He wasn't cured until 68 _____ later and is now listed by Guinness as the world record ______ for hiccup _________. Meanwhile, Florida teen Jennifer Mee may hold the record for the most frequent hiccups, 50 times per ______ for more than four weeks in 2007. So what causes hiccups? Doctors point out that a round of hiccups often follows from stimuli that stretch the stomach, like swallowing air or too rapid eating or drinking. Others associate hiccups with intense emotions or a response to them: ________, sobbing, anxiety, and excitement. Let's look at what happens when we hiccup. It begins with an involuntary spasm or ______ ___________ of the diaphragm, the large dome-shaped muscle below our lungs that we use to ______ air. This is followed almost ___________ by the sudden closure of the vocal chords and the opening between them, which is called the glottis. The movement of the diaphragm initiates a sudden intake of air, but the _______ of the vocal chords stops it from entering the wind pipe and reaching the lungs. It also creates the ______________ sound: "hic." To date, there is no known function for _______. They don't seem to provide any _______ or physiological advantage. Why begin to inhale air only to suddenly stop it from actually entering the lungs? Anatomical structures, or physiological mechanisms, with no apparent purpose present challenges to ____________ __________. Do such structures serve some hidden ________ that hasn't yet been discovered? Or are they relics of our evolutionary past, having once served some important _______ only to _______ into the present as _________ ________? One idea is that hiccups began many millions of years before the appearance of humans. The lung is thought to have evolved as a structure to allow early fish, many of which lived in warm, stagnant water with little oxygen, to take advantage of the abundant oxygen in the air overhead. When descendants of these animals later moved onto land, they moved from gill-based ventilation to air-breathing with lungs. That's similar to the much more rapid changes faced by _____ today as they transition from tadpoles with gills to adults with lungs. This __________ suggests that the hiccup is a relic of the ancient transition from water to land. An inhalation that could move water over _____ followed by a rapid closure of the glottis preventing _____ from entering the lungs. That's supported by evidence which suggests that the neural patterning involved in generating a hiccup is almost identical to that responsible for ___________ in amphibians. Another group of scientists believe that the ______ is retained in us today because it actually provides an important advantage. They point out that true hiccups are found only in mammals and that they're not retained in birds, lizards, turtles, or any other exclusively air-breathing animals. Further, hiccups appear in human babies long before birth and are far more common in _______ that adults. Their explanation for this involves the ________ _________ activity of nursing. The ancient hiccup reflex may have been adapted by mammals to help remove air from the stomach as a sort of glorified burp. The sudden _________ of the diaphragm would raise air from the stomach, while a closure of the _______ would prevent milk from ________ the lungs. Sometimes, a bout of hiccups will go on and on, and we try home remedies: sipping continuously from a _____ of cold water, holding one's breath, a ________ of honey or peanut ______, _________ into a paper bag, or being suddenly __________. Unfortunately, __________ have yet to verify that any one cure works better or more consistently than others. However, we do know one thing that definitely doesn't work.

Solution

  1. breathing
  2. water
  3. contraction
  4. characteristic
  5. glottis
  6. glass
  7. frightened
  8. frogs
  9. evolutionary
  10. function
  11. biologists
  12. minute
  13. laughing
  14. mouthful
  15. gills
  16. remnants
  17. uniquely
  18. reflex
  19. respiration
  20. hypothesis
  21. hiccups
  22. scientists
  23. years
  24. closure
  25. persist
  26. inhale
  27. entering
  28. vestigial
  29. purpose
  30. infants
  31. butter
  32. expansion
  33. medical
  34. immediately
  35. holder
  36. mammalian
  37. sudden
  38. longevity

Original Text

Charles Osborne began to hiccup in 1922 after a hog fell on top of him. He wasn't cured until 68 years later and is now listed by Guinness as the world record holder for hiccup longevity. Meanwhile, Florida teen Jennifer Mee may hold the record for the most frequent hiccups, 50 times per minute for more than four weeks in 2007. So what causes hiccups? Doctors point out that a round of hiccups often follows from stimuli that stretch the stomach, like swallowing air or too rapid eating or drinking. Others associate hiccups with intense emotions or a response to them: laughing, sobbing, anxiety, and excitement. Let's look at what happens when we hiccup. It begins with an involuntary spasm or sudden contraction of the diaphragm, the large dome-shaped muscle below our lungs that we use to inhale air. This is followed almost immediately by the sudden closure of the vocal chords and the opening between them, which is called the glottis. The movement of the diaphragm initiates a sudden intake of air, but the closure of the vocal chords stops it from entering the wind pipe and reaching the lungs. It also creates the characteristic sound: "hic." To date, there is no known function for hiccups. They don't seem to provide any medical or physiological advantage. Why begin to inhale air only to suddenly stop it from actually entering the lungs? Anatomical structures, or physiological mechanisms, with no apparent purpose present challenges to evolutionary biologists. Do such structures serve some hidden function that hasn't yet been discovered? Or are they relics of our evolutionary past, having once served some important purpose only to persist into the present as vestigial remnants? One idea is that hiccups began many millions of years before the appearance of humans. The lung is thought to have evolved as a structure to allow early fish, many of which lived in warm, stagnant water with little oxygen, to take advantage of the abundant oxygen in the air overhead. When descendants of these animals later moved onto land, they moved from gill-based ventilation to air-breathing with lungs. That's similar to the much more rapid changes faced by frogs today as they transition from tadpoles with gills to adults with lungs. This hypothesis suggests that the hiccup is a relic of the ancient transition from water to land. An inhalation that could move water over gills followed by a rapid closure of the glottis preventing water from entering the lungs. That's supported by evidence which suggests that the neural patterning involved in generating a hiccup is almost identical to that responsible for respiration in amphibians. Another group of scientists believe that the reflex is retained in us today because it actually provides an important advantage. They point out that true hiccups are found only in mammals and that they're not retained in birds, lizards, turtles, or any other exclusively air-breathing animals. Further, hiccups appear in human babies long before birth and are far more common in infants that adults. Their explanation for this involves the uniquely mammalian activity of nursing. The ancient hiccup reflex may have been adapted by mammals to help remove air from the stomach as a sort of glorified burp. The sudden expansion of the diaphragm would raise air from the stomach, while a closure of the glottis would prevent milk from entering the lungs. Sometimes, a bout of hiccups will go on and on, and we try home remedies: sipping continuously from a glass of cold water, holding one's breath, a mouthful of honey or peanut butter, breathing into a paper bag, or being suddenly frightened. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to verify that any one cure works better or more consistently than others. However, we do know one thing that definitely doesn't work.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
inhale air 2
vocal chords 2

Important Words

  1. abundant
  2. activity
  3. adapted
  4. adults
  5. advantage
  6. air
  7. amphibians
  8. anatomical
  9. ancient
  10. animals
  11. anxiety
  12. apparent
  13. appearance
  14. associate
  15. babies
  16. bag
  17. began
  18. begins
  19. biologists
  20. birds
  21. birth
  22. bout
  23. breath
  24. breathing
  25. burp
  26. butter
  27. called
  28. challenges
  29. characteristic
  30. charles
  31. chords
  32. closure
  33. cold
  34. common
  35. consistently
  36. continuously
  37. contraction
  38. creates
  39. cure
  40. cured
  41. date
  42. descendants
  43. diaphragm
  44. discovered
  45. doctors
  46. drinking
  47. early
  48. eating
  49. emotions
  50. entering
  51. evidence
  52. evolutionary
  53. evolved
  54. excitement
  55. exclusively
  56. expansion
  57. explanation
  58. faced
  59. fell
  60. fish
  61. florida
  62. frequent
  63. frightened
  64. frogs
  65. function
  66. generating
  67. gills
  68. glass
  69. glorified
  70. glottis
  71. group
  72. guinness
  73. hiccup
  74. hiccups
  75. hidden
  76. hog
  77. hold
  78. holder
  79. holding
  80. home
  81. honey
  82. human
  83. humans
  84. hypothesis
  85. idea
  86. identical
  87. immediately
  88. important
  89. infants
  90. inhalation
  91. inhale
  92. initiates
  93. intake
  94. intense
  95. involuntary
  96. involved
  97. involves
  98. jennifer
  99. land
  100. large
  101. laughing
  102. listed
  103. lived
  104. lizards
  105. long
  106. longevity
  107. lung
  108. lungs
  109. mammalian
  110. mammals
  111. mechanisms
  112. medical
  113. mee
  114. milk
  115. millions
  116. minute
  117. mouthful
  118. move
  119. moved
  120. movement
  121. muscle
  122. neural
  123. nursing
  124. opening
  125. osborne
  126. overhead
  127. oxygen
  128. paper
  129. patterning
  130. peanut
  131. persist
  132. physiological
  133. pipe
  134. point
  135. present
  136. prevent
  137. preventing
  138. provide
  139. purpose
  140. raise
  141. rapid
  142. reaching
  143. record
  144. reflex
  145. relic
  146. relics
  147. remnants
  148. remove
  149. respiration
  150. response
  151. responsible
  152. retained
  153. scientists
  154. serve
  155. served
  156. similar
  157. sipping
  158. sobbing
  159. sort
  160. spasm
  161. stagnant
  162. stimuli
  163. stomach
  164. stop
  165. stops
  166. stretch
  167. structure
  168. structures
  169. sudden
  170. suddenly
  171. suggests
  172. supported
  173. swallowing
  174. tadpoles
  175. teen
  176. thought
  177. times
  178. today
  179. top
  180. transition
  181. true
  182. turtles
  183. uniquely
  184. ventilation
  185. verify
  186. vestigial
  187. vocal
  188. warm
  189. water
  190. weeks
  191. wind
  192. work
  193. works
  194. world
  195. years