full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Claudia Aguirre: Why is yawning contagious?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Oh, excuse me! Have you ever yawned because somebody else yawned? You aren't especially tired, yet suddenly your mouth opens wide and a big yawn comes out. This phenomenon is known as contagious yawning. And while siinttsces still don't fluly understand why it happens, there are many hypotheses currently being researched. Let's take a look at a few of the most prevalent ones, beginning with two physiological hyepeothss before moving to a psoiohcgclayl one. Our first physiological hypothesis states that contagious yawning is triggered by a sipeficc stimulus, an initial yawn. This is called fixed action pattern. Think of fixed acotin pattern like a reflex. Your yawn makes me yawn. saiilmr to a domino effect, one person's yawn triggers a yawn in a preson nearby that has oveebrsd the act. Once this reflex is triggered, it must run its course. Have you ever tried to stop a yawn once it has begun? Basically impossible! Another pishgoycoalil hypothesis is known as non-conscious mimicry, or the chameleon effect. This occurs when you imitate someone's behavior without knowing it, a sulbte and unintentional copycat meuanver. People tend to mimic each other's postures. If you are seated across from someone that has their legs crossed, you might cross your own legs. This hypothesis suggests that we yawn when we see someone else yawn because we are unconsciously copying his or her behavior. Scientists believe that this chameleon efefct is possible because of a special set of neurons known as mirror nnruoes. Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action as when we see someone else perform the same action. These neurons are important for learning and self-awareness. For example, watching someone do something physical, like ktniintg or putting on lipstick, can help you do those same aintocs more accurately. Neuroimaging studies using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance iimgnag, show us that when we seem someone yawn or even hear their yawn, a specific area of the brian housing these mirror neurons tends to light up, which, in turn, causes us to rosnped with the same action: a yawn! Our psychological hypothesis also involves the work of these mirorr neurons. We will call it the empathy yawn. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling and partake in their emotion, a crucial ability for siacol animals like us. Recently, neuroscientists have found that a subest of mirror neurons allows us to empathize with others' feelings at a deeper level. (Yawn) Scientists discovered this empathetic response to yawning while testing the first hypothesis we mentioned, fiexd action pattern. This study was set up to show that dogs would enact a yawn reflex at the mere sound of a human yawn. While their study showed this to be true, they found something else inrtetesing. Dogs yawned more frequently at familiar yawns, such as from their owners, than at unfamiliar ynaws from strangers. Following this research, other studies on humans and primates have also shown that contagious yawning occurs more frequently among friedns than strangers. In fact, contagious yawning sattrs occurring when we are about four or five years old, at the point when children develop the ability to identify others' emotions poerlpry. Still, while newer scientific studies aim to prove that contagious yawning is based on this capacity for ehptmay, more research is nedeed to shed light on what exactly is going on. It's possible that the answer lies in another hypothesis altogether. The next time you get cuhgat in a yawn, take a second to think about what just hepenapd. Were you thinking about a yawn? Did someone near you yawn? Was that person a setgarnr or someone csloe? And are you yawning right now? (Yawn) (Lip smacking)

Open Cloze

Oh, excuse me! Have you ever yawned because somebody else yawned? You aren't especially tired, yet suddenly your mouth opens wide and a big yawn comes out. This phenomenon is known as contagious yawning. And while __________ still don't _____ understand why it happens, there are many hypotheses currently being researched. Let's take a look at a few of the most prevalent ones, beginning with two physiological __________ before moving to a _____________ one. Our first physiological hypothesis states that contagious yawning is triggered by a ________ stimulus, an initial yawn. This is called fixed action pattern. Think of fixed ______ pattern like a reflex. Your yawn makes me yawn. _______ to a domino effect, one person's yawn triggers a yawn in a ______ nearby that has ________ the act. Once this reflex is triggered, it must run its course. Have you ever tried to stop a yawn once it has begun? Basically impossible! Another _____________ hypothesis is known as non-conscious mimicry, or the chameleon effect. This occurs when you imitate someone's behavior without knowing it, a ______ and unintentional copycat ________. People tend to mimic each other's postures. If you are seated across from someone that has their legs crossed, you might cross your own legs. This hypothesis suggests that we yawn when we see someone else yawn because we are unconsciously copying his or her behavior. Scientists believe that this chameleon ______ is possible because of a special set of neurons known as mirror _______. Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action as when we see someone else perform the same action. These neurons are important for learning and self-awareness. For example, watching someone do something physical, like ________ or putting on lipstick, can help you do those same _______ more accurately. Neuroimaging studies using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance _______, show us that when we seem someone yawn or even hear their yawn, a specific area of the _____ housing these mirror neurons tends to light up, which, in turn, causes us to _______ with the same action: a yawn! Our psychological hypothesis also involves the work of these ______ neurons. We will call it the empathy yawn. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling and partake in their emotion, a crucial ability for ______ animals like us. Recently, neuroscientists have found that a ______ of mirror neurons allows us to empathize with others' feelings at a deeper level. (Yawn) Scientists discovered this empathetic response to yawning while testing the first hypothesis we mentioned, _____ action pattern. This study was set up to show that dogs would enact a yawn reflex at the mere sound of a human yawn. While their study showed this to be true, they found something else ___________. Dogs yawned more frequently at familiar yawns, such as from their owners, than at unfamiliar _____ from strangers. Following this research, other studies on humans and primates have also shown that contagious yawning occurs more frequently among _______ than strangers. In fact, contagious yawning ______ occurring when we are about four or five years old, at the point when children develop the ability to identify others' emotions ________. Still, while newer scientific studies aim to prove that contagious yawning is based on this capacity for _______, more research is ______ to shed light on what exactly is going on. It's possible that the answer lies in another hypothesis altogether. The next time you get ______ in a yawn, take a second to think about what just ________. Were you thinking about a yawn? Did someone near you yawn? Was that person a ________ or someone _____? And are you yawning right now? (Yawn) (Lip smacking)

Solution

  1. neurons
  2. empathy
  3. caught
  4. interesting
  5. person
  6. yawns
  7. specific
  8. effect
  9. imaging
  10. subset
  11. physiological
  12. friends
  13. stranger
  14. knitting
  15. fixed
  16. close
  17. observed
  18. action
  19. social
  20. mirror
  21. hypotheses
  22. subtle
  23. starts
  24. fully
  25. actions
  26. brain
  27. similar
  28. respond
  29. maneuver
  30. properly
  31. needed
  32. psychological
  33. happened
  34. scientists

Original Text

Oh, excuse me! Have you ever yawned because somebody else yawned? You aren't especially tired, yet suddenly your mouth opens wide and a big yawn comes out. This phenomenon is known as contagious yawning. And while scientists still don't fully understand why it happens, there are many hypotheses currently being researched. Let's take a look at a few of the most prevalent ones, beginning with two physiological hypotheses before moving to a psychological one. Our first physiological hypothesis states that contagious yawning is triggered by a specific stimulus, an initial yawn. This is called fixed action pattern. Think of fixed action pattern like a reflex. Your yawn makes me yawn. Similar to a domino effect, one person's yawn triggers a yawn in a person nearby that has observed the act. Once this reflex is triggered, it must run its course. Have you ever tried to stop a yawn once it has begun? Basically impossible! Another physiological hypothesis is known as non-conscious mimicry, or the chameleon effect. This occurs when you imitate someone's behavior without knowing it, a subtle and unintentional copycat maneuver. People tend to mimic each other's postures. If you are seated across from someone that has their legs crossed, you might cross your own legs. This hypothesis suggests that we yawn when we see someone else yawn because we are unconsciously copying his or her behavior. Scientists believe that this chameleon effect is possible because of a special set of neurons known as mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action as when we see someone else perform the same action. These neurons are important for learning and self-awareness. For example, watching someone do something physical, like knitting or putting on lipstick, can help you do those same actions more accurately. Neuroimaging studies using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging, show us that when we seem someone yawn or even hear their yawn, a specific area of the brain housing these mirror neurons tends to light up, which, in turn, causes us to respond with the same action: a yawn! Our psychological hypothesis also involves the work of these mirror neurons. We will call it the empathy yawn. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling and partake in their emotion, a crucial ability for social animals like us. Recently, neuroscientists have found that a subset of mirror neurons allows us to empathize with others' feelings at a deeper level. (Yawn) Scientists discovered this empathetic response to yawning while testing the first hypothesis we mentioned, fixed action pattern. This study was set up to show that dogs would enact a yawn reflex at the mere sound of a human yawn. While their study showed this to be true, they found something else interesting. Dogs yawned more frequently at familiar yawns, such as from their owners, than at unfamiliar yawns from strangers. Following this research, other studies on humans and primates have also shown that contagious yawning occurs more frequently among friends than strangers. In fact, contagious yawning starts occurring when we are about four or five years old, at the point when children develop the ability to identify others' emotions properly. Still, while newer scientific studies aim to prove that contagious yawning is based on this capacity for empathy, more research is needed to shed light on what exactly is going on. It's possible that the answer lies in another hypothesis altogether. The next time you get caught in a yawn, take a second to think about what just happened. Were you thinking about a yawn? Did someone near you yawn? Was that person a stranger or someone close? And are you yawning right now? (Yawn) (Lip smacking)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
contagious yawning 5
mirror neurons 5
fixed action 3
action pattern 3
physiological hypothesis 2
chameleon effect 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
fixed action pattern 3

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. accurately
  3. act
  4. action
  5. actions
  6. aim
  7. altogether
  8. animals
  9. answer
  10. area
  11. based
  12. basically
  13. beginning
  14. begun
  15. behavior
  16. big
  17. brain
  18. call
  19. called
  20. capacity
  21. caught
  22. cell
  23. chameleon
  24. children
  25. close
  26. contagious
  27. copycat
  28. copying
  29. cross
  30. crossed
  31. crucial
  32. deeper
  33. develop
  34. discovered
  35. dogs
  36. domino
  37. effect
  38. emotion
  39. emotions
  40. empathetic
  41. empathize
  42. empathy
  43. enact
  44. equally
  45. excuse
  46. fact
  47. familiar
  48. feeling
  49. feelings
  50. fixed
  51. fmri
  52. frequently
  53. friends
  54. fully
  55. functional
  56. happened
  57. hear
  58. housing
  59. human
  60. humans
  61. hypotheses
  62. hypothesis
  63. identify
  64. imaging
  65. imitate
  66. important
  67. initial
  68. interesting
  69. involves
  70. knitting
  71. knowing
  72. learning
  73. legs
  74. level
  75. lies
  76. light
  77. lip
  78. lipstick
  79. magnetic
  80. maneuver
  81. mentioned
  82. mere
  83. mimic
  84. mimicry
  85. mirror
  86. mouth
  87. moving
  88. nearby
  89. needed
  90. neuroimaging
  91. neurons
  92. neuroscientists
  93. newer
  94. observed
  95. occurring
  96. occurs
  97. opens
  98. owners
  99. partake
  100. pattern
  101. people
  102. perform
  103. person
  104. phenomenon
  105. physical
  106. physiological
  107. point
  108. postures
  109. prevalent
  110. primates
  111. properly
  112. prove
  113. psychological
  114. putting
  115. reflex
  116. research
  117. researched
  118. resonance
  119. respond
  120. responds
  121. response
  122. run
  123. scientific
  124. scientists
  125. seated
  126. set
  127. shed
  128. show
  129. showed
  130. shown
  131. similar
  132. smacking
  133. social
  134. sound
  135. special
  136. specific
  137. starts
  138. states
  139. stimulus
  140. stop
  141. stranger
  142. strangers
  143. studies
  144. study
  145. subset
  146. subtle
  147. suddenly
  148. suggests
  149. tend
  150. testing
  151. thinking
  152. time
  153. tired
  154. triggered
  155. triggers
  156. true
  157. turn
  158. type
  159. unconsciously
  160. understand
  161. unfamiliar
  162. unintentional
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  165. work
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  167. yawned
  168. yawning
  169. yawns
  170. years