Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Yawning May No Longer be a Wide Open Question

15.11.2011
A new theory proposed by Gary Hack, DDS of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and Andrew Gallup, PhD of Princeton University suggests that yawning cools the brain, and the sinuses may play a key role.

In the current edition of the journal Medical Hypotheses, Gallup and Hack tackle the question of why humans yawn, and explore the possible function of the human sinuses.

Yawning occurs not because you are tired, bored, or even need oxygen, they argue. Instead, they say, yawning helps to regulate the brain’s temperature. “The brain is exquisitely sensitive to temperature changes and therefore must be protected from overheating,” the authors write. “Brains, like computers, operate best when they are cool”.

The scientists propose that the walls of the human maxillary sinus (pictured in green above) flex during yawning like a bellows, which in turn facilitates brain cooling. The theory helps explain the function of the human sinuses, which is still debated among scientists. In fact, Hack says everything concerning the human sinuses is debated. “Very little is understood about them, and little is agreed upon even by those who investigate them. Some scientists believe that they have no function at all,” he said.

Essentially the authors present a hypothesis, not previously proposed, that the human sinuses play a role in brain cooling that is driven by yawning.

Beyond the physiological curiosity, the brain cooling theory of yawning also has practical medical implications. Bouts of excessive yawning often precede the onset of seizures in epileptic patients, and predict the onset of pain in people with migraine headaches, explains Gallup. Hack and Gallup predict that excessive yawning might be able to be used as a diagnostic tool in identifying dysfunction of temperature regulation. “Excessive yawning appears to be symptomatic of conditions that increase brain and/or core temperature, such as central nervous system damage and sleep deprivation, says Gallup, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton.

Previously Gallup conducted experiments to test the yawning theory. For example, he implanted thermocoupled probes in the frontal cortex of rats to measure brain temperature before, during, and after yawning. He found that yawning was preceded by rapid increases in brain temperature and followed by corresponding decreases in brain temperature. Gallup also published a case of two women with chronic and debilitating bouts of yawning 5 to 45 minutes in length, occurring as many as 15 times per day. Both women showed signs of dysfunctioning brain temperature regulation. Mirroring the results of the brain temperature study, one woman took oral temperature measurements before and after yawning episodes, which showed a significant drop in temperature. After receiving that information, the woman reported that methods of behavioral brain cooling provided relief and or postponements of her yawning symptoms.

In 2002, Hack presented findings on the potential role of the maxillary sinus in facilitating brain cooling during functional movements of the jaw. He postulated that human jaw musculature may flex the thin walls of that sinus, ventilating the sinus system and aiding in brain cooling.

Hack and Gallup began collaborating last year. They thought the sinus wall flexing may ventilate the human sinuses similar to that process which is known to occur in birds. “Therefore the proposed ventilation process may assist in controlling brain temperature and insuring the maintenance of integrated functions of the brain,” says Hack.

| Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umaryland.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>