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Le bâillement, du réflexe à la pathologie
Le bâillement : de l'éthologie à la médecine clinique
Le bâillement : phylogenèse, éthologie, nosogénie
 Le bâillement : un comportement universel
La parakinésie brachiale oscitante
Yawning: its cycle, its role
Warum gähnen wir ?
 
Fetal yawning assessed by 3D and 4D sonography
Le bâillement foetal
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mystery of yawning 

 

 

 

 

mise à jour du
20 juillet 2019
Autism Res.
2019 May 27.
Blood oxytocin concentration positively predicts contagious yawning behavior
in children with autism spectrum disorder
 
Mariscal MG, Oztan O, Rose SM, Libove RA,
Jackson LP, Sumiyoshi RD, Trujillo TH,
Carson DS, Phillips JM,
Garner JP, Hardan AY, Parker KJ.

Chat-logomini

 
Introduction
Autisme spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by core social impairments (c.g., reduced nonverbal social communication behaviors, lack of perspective taking, and deficits in social-emotional reciprocity. Individuals with ASD may also exhibit a reduced capacity for empathy, as defined and reviewed by Bons et al. [2013], including impairments in facial mimicry and emotion recognition. The contagious yawn response (i.e., yawning in response to the perception of another individual's yawn) has been found to be positively associated with performance on self-face recognition and theory of mind stories [Platek, Critton, Myers, & Gallup Jr., 2003]. Additionally, viewing yawns was found to increase activity in the mirror neuron system [Haker, Kawohl, Herwig, & Rosslcr, 2013]. As a result, contagious yawning has been used in research studies as a proxy measure of empathy [Senju et al., 2007].
Some studies have found contagious yawning to be reduced in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children [Giganti & Ksposito Ziello, 2009; Senju et al., 2007]. However, not all studies have replicated the impaired contagious yawn response finding in children with ASD. Several such studies have attributed the existence of this phenomenon instead to group differences in attention paid to yawn stimuli during task performance [Senju et al., 2009; Usui et al., 20131. Another possibility, however, is that the impaired contagious yawn response exists, but only in a subset of children with ASD. This might be particularly true if individual differences in the biology that regulates social functioning drive contagious yawning behavior in children with ASD, thereby contributing to phenotypi-cally hetcrogenous study cohorts and inconsistent study outcomes.
 
Although the neurochemical underpinnings of contagious yawning are unknown, a promising biological candidate is the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT). In animal models, both OXT administration and activation of oxytocinergic neurons have been found to induce yawning [Eguibar, Codes, Isidro, & Ugarte, 2015; Kita, Yoshida, & Nishino, 2006]. Moreover, OXT promotes prosocial functioning in mammals lAnacker & Beery, 2013] and administration of OXT enhances empathy in humans [Hurlemann et al., 2010]. Blood OXT concentration bas also been found to predict cerebrospinal fluid OXT concentration in the same individuals [Carson et al., 2015], suggesting that blood OXT concentration may be a useful surrogate measurc of brain OXT activity. For example, a previous study found low circulating blood concentrations of OXT to be associated with diminished theory of mind ability, a cognitive form of empathy, in human children |Parker et al., 2014]. The goal of the present study therefore was to test whether children with and without ASD differ in contagious yawning behavior, while concomitantly testing whether blood OXT concentration and attention paid to yawn stimuli during task performance impact this behavioral phenomenon.
 
Discussion
Previous research on contagious yawning behavior in children with ASD has produced equivocal results. Some studies have reported an impaired contagious yawn response in children with ASD versus TD children [Giganti & Esposito Ziello, 2009; Senju et al., 2007], whereas other studies have failed to replicate this finding [Senju et al., 2009; Usui et al., 2013], instead attributing its existence to group differences in attention paid to yawn stimuli. The present study sought to address this discrepancy by testing whether a subset of children with ASD had this impairment and if it could he biologically identified. This was indeed the case, as children with ASD at lower blood OXT concentrations exhibited an impaired contagious yawn response but those at higher blood OXT concentrations were behaviorally similar to TD children. Importantly, this finding was observed whether attention paid to test stimuli was included in the statistical model or not, and attention never predicted yawn rate. The conclusion that attention is not a significant driver of yawn rates was further supported by our exploratory factor analysis showing that attention rate and IQ score significantly loaded onto one factor, whereas blood OXT concentration and contagious yawning rate significantly loaded onto another.
 
We found no evidence that children with ASD showed delayed perception of yawn stimuli, as they did not differ from TD children in yawning rates during neutral stimulus trials. We likewise found no relationship between SRS total score and contagious yawning in children with ASD, and the relationship between blood OXT concentration and contagious yawning held whether or not SRS total score was included in the model. These findings suggest that an impaired contagious yawn response is not due to social perceptual delays or greater clinical symptom severity, but rather, that individuals with low OXT concentrations may constitute an ASD "subgroup" characterized by empathy-related impairments in facial mimicry and reflexive behavior copying [Massen 8c Gallup, 2017]. Additional research including pharmacological manipulation of the OXT System is now required to more fully test this hypothesis.
 
Interestingly, the relationship between blood OXT con-centration and contagious yawning behavior was specific to children with ASD. Exactly why TO children did not show this relationship is unknown, but it is not due to "ceiling" effects in their contagious yawning behavior. One possible explanation for this finding is that in individuals whose social functioning is unaffected, higher OXT concentrations may enhance social awareness of contagious yawning, and thus lead to its suppression [Gallup & Church, 2015]. Our participants completed the contagious yawning task in a room containing both a webcam and a researcher; the presence of each of these individually bas been shown to decrease contagious yawning behavior in TD individuals [Gallup, Church, Miller, Risko, 8c Kingstone, 2016].
 
This study had several limitations.
 
First, our sample was mad biased, in keeping with ASD's population prevalence [Christensen, 2016], but nevertheless not powered to discern potential sex differences in the relationship between blood OXT concentrations and contagious yawning behavior.
 
Second, this study related blood OXT concentrations to a brain-mediated social behavior. Whether or not peripheral OXT concentrations are a robust indicator of brain-related OXT activity remains to be determined, but at least some research suggests that this may be the case [Carson et al., 201 S].
 
Third, although all of our study participants underwent identical experimental procedures, it should be noted that participants nevertheless were drawn from several distinct study populations.
 
Fourth, our ASD participants were not medication free. Although their medications were stable (i.e., for at least 4 weeks) before blood collection, it is possible that blood OXT concentrations and/or the contagious yawn response were influenced by their medication status, finally, this study manually coded attention as a binary measure per stimulus trial. Follow-up research could benefit from measuring attention with a more precise technology (e.g., eye tracking).
 
Despite potential limitations, the present study provides the first evidence that blood OXT concentration is positively associated with contagious yawning behavior in children with ASD. This study also identified a subset of children with ASD with lower blood OXT concentrations who exhibit an impaired contagious yawn response compared to TD children. These collective findings suggest that a biologically defined subset of children with ASL) may exhibit reduced empathy, as measured by an impaired contagious yawn response, and that discrepant reports of this behavioral phenomenon in the literature may be attributable, at least in part, to variable mean OXT concentrations across ASD study cohorts.