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27 février 2011
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Première conférence internationale sur le bâillement
First International Conference on Yawning
Paris 24 - 25 juin 2010
Galerie des Photos de FICY
Olivier Walusinski (Ed.): The Mystery of Yawning in Physiology and Disease
Karger, Basel, 2010, 160 pp
2010;23(6): 368-369
This is a unique book of 12 chapters on yawning, a physiological process which The Mystery of Yawning in Physiology everyone experiences but and Disease understands very little. The science of yawning, 'chasmology' has evolved considerably in the past 20 years. The book begins with an excellent historical perspective on yawning, quoting from the first medical writing by Hippocrates in BC 400.
The chapter on 'Population knowledge and beliefs' discusses the Indian belief that ghosts enter the body through the mouth while yawning and the so-called remedy for this is illustrated on the cover page - putting your hand in front of your mouth to scare the bad spirit away.
The chapter on foetal yawning aroused my curiosity. It is suggested that yawning plays a role in developmental disorders. The process of yawning, which begins in foetal life and continues into old age, changes throughout life. It has been observed in numerous animal species too.
The chapter on yawning and vigilance discusses two hypotheses: (i) yawning is triggered by drowsiness, and (ii) yawning arouses the brain. The chapter on yawning in non-primates and the effect ofpunishment-induced fear and yawning would interest researchers in basic sciences.
Does yawning cool the brain? Read the 'brain cooling' hypotheses. ACTHIMSH, acetylcholine, oxytocin, nitric oxide, dopamine, excitatory amino acids, serotonin, opioids and GABA are some neurotransmitters involved in the physiology of yawning. Yawning is contagious and can be transmitted from one to another species. An interesting experiment showed dogs yawning following a human yawn.
The chapters on 'Neuro-imaging of yawning' and 'Associated movements in hemiplegic limbs during yawning' makes for interesting reading.
This book is simple reading and motivates the reader to want to know more. I would recommend the book, especially to residents and faculty in physiology, neurology and sleep medicine.
Department of Neurology All India Institute of Medical Sciences
New Delhi

Review in the Journal "Primates"