Why do we yawn? The importance of evidence for specific yawn-induced effects

Guggisberg, Adrian G; Mathis, Johannes; Schnider, Armin; Hess, Christian W (2011). Why do we yawn? The importance of evidence for specific yawn-induced effects. Neuroscience & biobehavioral reviews, 35(5), pp. 1302-4. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.12.004

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Gallup (this issue) believes that our recent review on the function of yawning (Guggisberg et al., 2010) is unbalanced and that it ignores evidence for his thermoregulation hypothesis. Here we address these criticisms and show them to be untenable. While we never claimed that the social hypothesis of yawning has "definite experimental support", we emphasize the importance of experimental evidence for specific effects of yawns when considering why we yawn. The only specific effect of yawning that could be demonstrated so far is its contagiousness in humans, some non-human primates, and possibly dogs, whereas all studies investigating physiological consequences of yawns were unable to observe specific yawn-induced effects in the individual of any species. The argument that from an evolutionary perspective, yawns must have a "primitive" physiological function arises from imprecise reasoning.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Guggisberg, Adrian; Mathis, Johannes and Hess, Christian Walter








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:14

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2013 13:23

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/3359 (FactScience: 207025)

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