mise à jour du
27 juillet 2008
en français
Yawning : comparative study of knowledge and beliefs,
popular and medical
O. Walusinski, R. Meenakshisundaram
P. Thirumalaikolundusubramanian, S. Diwakar, G.Dhanalakshmi
Institute of Internal Medicine, Madras Medical College, Chennai, India


Abstract :
Yawning and pandiculation are a universal behaviour amongst vertebrates, closer to an emotional stereotypy than a reflex. Phylogenetically ancient and ontogenetically primitive, they exteriorise homeostatic processes of systems controlling wakefulness, satiety and sexuality in the diencephalon. Western and Eastern cultures ascribe different meanings to these elements of non-verbal communication, closely related to empathy. We present a comparative study of popular and medical views on the subject, in France and India, revealing that perceptions of yawning are not very advanced, more closely resembling beliefs than scientific knowledge. Perhaps medical training will one day incorporate the study of this daily behaviour, common to all human beings.

Since Antiquity, yawning has held as little interest for philosophers, psychologists and physiologists, as it has for teachers, moralists and physicians. And yet, few things are as common as yawning. Everyone yawns 5 to 10 times a day. Yawning is a recognized behaviour in almost all vertebrates from birds to humans, one which starts in the womb and continues until death. Although yawning often procures a sense of well-being for the yawner, attempting to mask this behaviour is standard practice.
read this chapter in
The Mystery of Yawning in Physiology and Disease
Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience tome 28
Karger, Basel 2010
Arab countries
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 Knowledge, attitude and beliefs of medical residents on yawning