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The Science Behind Hiccups, Yawns, and Other Body Curiosities

A sudden yawn, an embarrassing hiccup, or an involuntary muscle jerk—we’ve all experienced our share of body curiosities. You know; when your body does something totally out of the blue without your conscious intent. Hiccups, yawns, muscle twitches, sleep walking, sneezes, and spontaneous nose bleeds can take you off guard, but believe it or not, there are perfectly reasonable and scientific explanations behind these wacky body behaviors…

1. Contagious Yawns

You just know that you’ll yawn if you see someone else yawn first…it’s inevitable. Yet you likely don’t know what triggers that domino effect of yawns. No, it isn’t a law of the universe nor an empathetic reaction as was once believed, according to a study conducted by the Duke University School of Medicine, in North Carolina.

The study, published in the journal, PLOS ONE, monitored the susceptibility of yawns among 328 healthy study participants and found that 222 yawned after seeing another person yawn. Findings showed that this type of contagious yawning—which excludes yawns due to lack of sleep or plummeting energy levels—was strongly dependent on age. While older participants were less likely to yawn in response to another yawn, younger study participants were more prone to contagious yawning.


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