IN PRINT: A New Reason to Yawn in Class

oct3yawnIt’s getting to be that time of the year when classes are finally in full swing, first papers are due, and hours spent in bed are slowly trickling away. If the readjustment to the grind is taking its toll and you’re getting grilled for yawning during that 50-minute lecture, Andrew Gallup, a researcher in Princeton’s EEB department, has a new explanation you can try on your professor.

In a study published earlier this month in Frontiers of Evolutionary Neuroscience, Gallup found that that the purpose of a yawn is to cool the brain. People were shown to be more likely to yawn in winter than summer, and Gallup thinks this might be because an overheated brain gets no relief from taking in warmer air.

Gallup said having an overheated brain could cause feelings of drowsiness, explaining why we also yawn when we are sleepy.

“When you are warmer you are more likely to feel tired. At night when you are about to sleep your body temperature is at its highest point of the day,” he said.

Check out more about the study at the Times of Trenton.

    By Ellen Shakespear on October 5th 2011, 6:53pm
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