Why do we yawn? 我們為什麼打哈欠?

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Vocabulary: sleep 詞彙:睡眠

Yawning is something we all do – maybe because we’re bored carrying out tedious tasks or because we’re tired. Sometimes, just seeing other people yawn can set you off. But is this biological function really contagious, and why do we do it in the first place?

Many of us think we open our mouths when we yawn to take in more oxygen, but in fact it appears there is no clear biological reason. According to BBC Bitesize, new research suggests it might be because yawning cools the brain down and prevents it from overheating, much like the fan in your laptop. This might be why we’re more likely to feel drowsy and yawn in warm temperatures.

What is clear is that we yawn more when we’re exhausted and ready for a nap, and we can’t control when we do it – once we start, there’s no stopping us! But it’s also true that yawning is a very contagious behaviour. John Drury, a researcher from Sussex University, told the BBC that 「it’s meant to be automatic; it’s something that you can’t stop. Dogs yawn when their owners yawn, animals yawn to each other. It happens whether you want to or not.」

His research into this cognitive behaviour found that there is a connection with our social group and how close we are to the people in it. If we identify with the person who exhibits the behaviour, we are likely to copy it too.

Other research by the University of Nottingham in 2017 found similar results. They asked volunteers to watch other people yawn. They found their ability to resist yawning when others around them yawned was limited. And the urge to yawn was increased when people were told they couldn’t. They also found, when using electrical stimulation, that they were able to increase people’s desire to yawn. These findings, they say, could be useful because it could help treat other conditions like Tourette’s, which involve the same area of the brain.

What is certain is that a yawn can creep up on us at any time even when we think we’re not tired – but, I hope, not when you’re reading this article!

詞彙表

yawning 打哈欠
bored 感到無聊的
tired 疲倦的,累的
set sb. off 使某人開始做某事
biological function 生物功能
contagious 有感染力的,會蔓延的
oxygen 氧氣
overheat 使……變得過熱
drowsy 昏昏欲睡的
exhausted 精疲力盡的
a nap 小睡,打盹
behaviour 行為
automatic 不自覺的,無意識的
cognitive 認知的
identify with sb. 與某人產生共鳴
exhibit 表現出
resist 抗拒
urge 強烈的慾望
electrical stimulation 電刺激
creep up on sb. 不知不覺中體驗到,悄悄接近某人

測驗與練習

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. According to one researcher, what does yawning stop from overheating?

2. True or false? We yawn more to take in more oxygen.

3. What happens when people are told not to yawn?

4. True or false? We are more likely to yawn when someone we know yawns.

5. How can we stop ourselves yawning?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. I find walking to work every day a bit _______, so I might start cycling instead.

contagious          tedious             automatic           drowsy

2. When my sister started crying at the wedding, it _______ and we were all in
floods of tears!

set one off           set it off            set us off            set you off

3. I’m not going out tonight: I’ve worked two nightshifts and I’m _______.

drowsy                a nap                overheating        exhausted

4. I’m supposed to be on a diet, but it’s hard to _______ all the chocolate people
bring into the office.

resist                  urge                   exhibit                contagious

5. He found it hard to _______ his team as he had come from a different
background.

identity with        identify on         identify with        identify at

答案

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。  

1. According to one researcher, what does yawning stop from overheating?
The research suggests yawning cools the brain down and prevents it from overheating.

2. True or false? We yawn more to take in more oxygen.
False. It appears there is no clear biological reason for yawning.

3. What happens when people are told not to yawn?
The urge to yawn was increased when people were told not to yawn.

4. True or false? We are more likely to yawn when someone we know yawns.
True. Research from Sussex University found that if we identify with the person who yawns we are likely to copy them.

5. How can we stop ourselves yawning?
You can’t. It happens whether you want to or not.

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. I find walking to work every day a bit tedious, so I might start cycling instead.

2. When my sister started crying at the wedding, it set us off and we were all in floods of tears!

3. I’m not going out tonight: I’ve worked two nightshifts and I’m exhausted.

4. I’m supposed to be on a diet, but it’s hard to resist all the chocolate people bring into the office.

5. He found it hard to identify with his team as he had come from a different background.