Scientific article

Interplay between yawning and vigilance: a review of the experimental evidence

Published inFrontiers of neurology and neuroscience, vol. 28, p. 47-54
Publication date2010

BACKGROUND: Yawning is a phylogenetically old behavior of ubiquitous occurrence. The origin and function of this conspicuous phenomenon have been subject to speculation for centuries. A widely held hypothesis posits that yawning increases the arousal level during sleepiness; thus, providing a homeostatic regulation of vigilance. METHODS: This chapter reviews experimental data on the relationship between yawning and vigilance that allow testing of the components and predictions of this hypothesis. RESULTS: Behavioral studies and electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of brain activity before and after yawning have provided consistent evidence that yawning occurs during states of low vigilance; thus, substantiating the notion that it is provoked by sleepiness. However, studies analyzing autonomic nervous activity and EEG-based indices of vigilance in yawning subjects did not find specific autonomic activations or increased arousal levels after yawning. CONCLUSIONS: The data therefore do not support an arousing effect of yawning or a role in regulation of vigilance or autonomic tone.

  • Animals
  • Arousal/*physiology
  • Brain/*physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Electroencephalography/methods
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Yawning/*physiology
Citation (ISO format)
GUGGISBERG, Adrian, MATHIS, Johannes, HESS, Christian W. Interplay between yawning and vigilance: a review of the experimental evidence. In: Frontiers of neurology and neuroscience, 2010, vol. 28, p. 47–54. doi: 10.1159/000307079
ISSN of the journal0300-5186

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