Sunday, August 2, 2009


A study published in the journal Biology Letters concludes that dogs can "catch" human yawns. Yes that means you yawn and I will yawn as well.

Scientists have known for decades that yawns are contageous among people, so much so that simply thinking about them can trigger a domino effect of "contagious yawning". The phenomenon is a link with empathy and the ability to read the thoughts of another individual. That is evidence that dogs may be able to “read the mind” of their owners. DUH. [2leggeds! You needed a study for this?]

This study reported that human yawns induce yawning in dogs in 21 out of 29 dogs showing that "dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy." Ok, again... DUH!!!!!!

Joly-Mascheroni RM, Senju A, Shepherd AJ.

School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK.

This study is the first to demonstrate that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Twenty-nine dogs observed a human yawning or making control mouth movements. Twenty-one dogs yawned when they observed a human yawning, but control mouth movements did not elicit yawning from any of them. The presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that this phenomenon is not specific to primate species and may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy. Since yawning is known to modulate the levels of arousal, yawn contagion may help coordinate dog-human interaction and communication. Understanding the mechanism as well as the function of contagious yawning between humans and dogs requires more detailed investigation.

PMID: 18682357 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID: PMC2610100 [Available on 2009/10/23]

Now here is a very interesting fact... Children with autism spectrum disorders show absence of contagious yawning. {Biol Lett. 2007 Dec 22; 3(6):706-8.}

Anim Cogn. 2009 May 19; . Epub 2009 May 19.

You learn something new every day

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