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Première conférence internationale sur le bâillement
First International Conference on Yawning
Paris 24 - 25 juin 2010
Galerie des Photos de FICY
Exploring Yawning with Neuroimaging
Fatta B. Nahab
Neurology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, USA
Nahab and Cooper
The neural mechanisms responsible for spontaneous yawning as well as contagious yawning are not well characterized. Neuroimaging is an essential tool for helping to identify the seminal neural structures and their inter-related functions to carry out this complex stereotyped motor program. Studies to date have explored the structural neural correlates of yawning through a series of lesion-based case reports and identified participatory structures at various levels of the central nervous system. Functional neuroimaging methods like fMRI have also shed led on the genesis of contagious yawning, though cohesive models explaining the neural mechanisms of contagious motor programs such as yawning remain limited.

We conducted a slow event-related fMRI experiment with naïve subjects passively viewing yawn and various other control videos along with correlative behavioral testing. Specifically associated with the viewing of the contagious yawn was an area of activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest a role for the prefrontal cortex in the processing of contagious yawning, while demonstrating a unique automaticity in the processing of contagious motor programs which take place independently of mirror neuron networks.
-Nahab FB, Hattori N, Saad ZS, Hallett M Contagious yawning and the frontal lobe: An fMRI study Human Brain Mapping 2009;30:1744-1751