If you have really big yawns, you could be a genius, according to new study
To file into your pile of studies that confirm your intelligence, a recent study showed that people who yawn bigger have bigger brains as well as more complex cognitive functioning, which means your habit of deep yawning may be more reflective of your deep intelligence than the fact that you routinely drink coffee after 8 p.m. and start Netflix marathons at 1 a.m. The journal Biology Letters reveals that researchers from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta have made consistent connections between yawning and brain weight and the complexity of cognitive capacity.
This makes sense because yawning is a cooling system for your brain, supplying more fresh oxygen for its functions. It only seems reasonable that bigger brains that undergo a more complex exchange of information would require longer yawns, which of course, enables all of us sleep-deprived narcissists to clam our visible exhaustion is proof of deep-seeded genius.
A psychologist at SUNY, Oneonta, Dr. Andrew Gallup, revealed that the longest yawns in animals were observed as a combination of both brain size (elephants have the largest brains) and complexity of neuronal structure (human brains have the most cortical neurons): “Neither the size of the body nor the anatomical structures specific to yawning — cranium and mandible — are driving these effects, because gorillas, camels, horses, lions, walruses and African elephants all have shorter average yawns than humans. Instead, differences in yawn duration appear to be specifically linked to interspecies variation in brain size and complexity, with cortical neuron number being the most significant factor.”
Does this mean we should go around comparing yawns with our friends and loved ones as a measure of intellectual complexity? This mostly depends on how far you want to take this study’s findings, and how much you want to test the patience of your relationships.
While reporting his findings, Gallup made sure to emphasize that yawning is healthy for brain process, so whether or not your yawns are sparked by a bender in an all-night diner or the pure complexity of your brain, it’s crucial to let those gaping yawns out so your brain can cool down and speed up its processing.
While many of us are familiar with the strange phenomenon of contagious yawning, Gallup’s findings in the recent study even went so far as to suggest that yawning is contagious in a behavioral level (rather than involuntary/compulsory), and can “promote the collective attention and group vigilance, and may help coordinate behavior.” Does this mean that yawning is the synchronized swimming of our brains?
With this knowledge in tow, you can now yawn proudly, knowing the depth of your yawn only reflects the complexity of your brain’s processing system.