On yawning and its functions

Abstract

The forms and behavioral correlates of yawning are described, and the phylogenetic and ontogenetic aspects of the act are examined with particular attention to its possible functions. Much evidence supports the view that yawning is an important mediator of behavioral arousal levels, a view that is further strengthened by a review of endocrine, neurotransmitter, and pharmacological mechanisms of yawning: A major function of yawning appears to involve maintenance or increase of arousal when environments provide relatively little stimulation.

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Correspondence to Ronald Baenninger.

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I gratefully acknowledge the ideas and helpful criticism of my colleagues Mary Ann Baenninger, Alan Cowan, Monica Greco, and Luci Paul, as well as the reviewers for this journal. I am also grateful to Byron Campbell at Princeton University, Björn Holmgren and Ruth Urba-Holmgren at the University of Puebla, and Gordon Russell at the University of Lethbridge for their hospitality and intellectual stimulation. A Study Leave and Grants-in-Aid from Temple University were of major assistance in making this work possible.

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Baenninger, R. On yawning and its functions. Psychon Bull Rev 4, 198–207 (1997). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03209394

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Keywords

  • Cerebral Blood Flow
  • Apomorphine
  • Sexual Arousal
  • Motion Sickness
  • Penile Erection