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BBC: 我们为什么打哈欠?

Why we yawn

我们为什么打哈欠?

It's a question that has puzzled scientists for a long time: why exactly do we yawn?

有一个问题困扰了科学家们很长一段时间:我们为什么会打哈欠?

In a recent breakthrough, scientists have discovered the part of the brain responsible for contagious yawning. It's called the primary motor cortex, and controls movement in the body. When triggered it makes us yawn. But we can't choose to yawn - it's an involuntary imitation of other people. You know how it goes: your friend yawns, you yawn.

最近科学家们有所突破,他们发现了大脑中负责引发打哈欠的部位。这个部位被称为主要运动皮质,它控制着身体的活动。一旦该部位被激活,我们就会打哈欠。但我们无法控制打哈欠——这是一种对他人行为的不由自主的模仿。大家都知道怎么回事:你的朋友打哈欠时,你也会跟着打哈欠。

Knowing which section of the brain is involved is only part of the answer. There is still a deeper question of 'why'. And we don't only yawn when others do, we sometimes yawn alone.

了解大脑相关部位只是答案的一部分。还有更深层的“为什么”的问题。而且我们不仅仅会跟着别人打哈欠,有时我们自己也会打哈欠。

So, let's start with the physiological theories behind yawning. As far back as 400BC, Greek physician Hippocrates speculated that yawning released harmful gases from the body, like "steam escaping from a cauldron". His colourful theory is now, sadly, discounted.

那么,我们先来了解一下打哈欠背后的生理学知识吧。早在公元前400年,希腊医生希波克拉底就推测出打哈欠能排放人体内的有害气体,这和“大汽锅冒蒸汽”一个道理。遗憾的是,他的丰富理论现在已经不受推崇了。

A more recent idea suggests that we yawn in order to cool down the brain. Just like a busy computer processor, our brains can overheat. Psychologist Gordon Gallup from the University at Albany has argued that the act of yawning delivers a rush of oxygen to the brain, helping us think more clearly.

最近的研究表明,我们打哈欠时为了让大脑得到放松。和一个连续运转的计算机处理器一样,我们的大脑也会超负荷。奥尔巴尼大学心理学家戈登·盖洛普认为,打哈欠能让大脑吸入一股氧气,这有助于我们更清醒地思考。

What about the connection between yawning and tiredness? We certainly yawn more when we're feeling sleepy or sluggish, but why is this? Theories that it helps give the body extra energy are largely discredited, as we don't yawn when we exercise, a time when we definitely need more get-up-and-go!

打哈欠和疲倦之间有什么联系呢?当我们感到困倦或无精打采时,就会哈欠连天,但为什么会这样呢?那些认为这样能提神的理论都不成立,因为我们生龙活虎的时候是不会打哈欠的,而打哈欠的时候意味着我们需要更多的干劲!

Psychologist Catriona Morrison from the University of Leeds says yawning is an ancient reflex. She told the BBC that it may have started in "the days of cavemen when someone had to be on watch all the time - yawning increases cerebral blood flow so can improve alertness."

利兹大学心理学家卡特里奥纳·莫里森表示,打哈欠是一种天生的本能反应。她对BBC透露说:“在穴居人时代,当人们需要一直保持警惕的时候——打哈欠可以加速血液流通,从而能提高警觉性。”

What about our friends' contagious yawning? Some think it comes down to empathy. While all vertebrate mammals yawn, only humans and chimpanzees 'catch' yawns from others. Studies have shown we yawn more frequently when in the company of close relatives and friends. Could yawning actually help us cement our closest relationships?

我们被朋友传染的打哈欠又是怎么回事呢?有些人认为这是产生共鸣的体现。但所有的脊椎型哺乳动物都会打哈欠,却只有人类和猩猩会被他人所影响。研究表明,当我们和亲朋好友在一起时,打哈欠的频率就会提高。打哈欠真的有助于增强亲情吗?

If it does, next time you yawn in company, don't feel too embarrassed. You're just showing off your people skills.

如果是这样,那下次一起打哈欠的时候也就不用感到尴尬,因为这是你人际交往能力的体现。

 

词汇表

contagious

会传染的

motor

肌肉运动的,运动神经的

cortex

(尤指大脑或其他器官的)皮层

involuntary

不由自主的

physiological

生理的

physician

医生(尤指内科医生)

cauldron

(通常指架在火上的)大锅

colourful

有趣的,有声有色的

discounted

大打折扣的,有所减弱的

overheat

负荷过多,承载过多

rush

(身体的)一阵感觉

sluggish

行动迟缓的

discredited

受到怀疑的,被质疑的

get-up-and-go

干劲

reflex

本能反应

cerebral

大脑的

come down to

归结为,归根结底在于

empathy

共鸣,共感

vertebrate

有脊椎的

cement

巩固(友谊)

people skills

人际交往能力

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