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 Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>