Brain Coolers

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Image made using photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Nana: What are you doing?

Nina: I’m yawning.

Nana: I can see that. Stop it. You’re making me yawn too.

Nina: Good, you’re mirror neurons are working. According to an article I read, yawning is most contagious when you are feeling affectionate. I love you too Nana. Let me get my watch.

Nana: You do that and note the time. It’s morning you lazy girl. You should be doing some physical activity, not dreaming of beddy-bye.

Nina: But I’m doing research.

Nana: Ah so you admit it! Research is boring. Excellent. You can stop boring me with your silly facts.

Nina: Au contraire, when the brain becomes very active, it heats up and, yawns are necessary to cool it down.

<Nina leaves to get her watch from her room>

Nana: Whatever. I yawn because I find you boring, not because I love you.

Nina: I’m back with the watch, and I love you too Nana. I never thought you’d say it out loud though.

Nana: You never listen to what I am saying. You just cherry pick a few words and string them together anyway you like.

Nina: You mean like confirmation bias. That was last time’s topic, Nana. Perhaps you should take your vitamins, so you can stay alert.

Nana: Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You’re the one yawning at nine in the morning.

Nina: I have the watch now.

Nana: What’s it for?

Nina: To time your yawns, Nana, so I can prove once and for all, that I am smarter.

Nana: What are you talking about?

Nina: Researchers have discovered that yawns are a brain cooling mechanism. That’s why species with larger and more sophisticated brains have bigger yawns that last longer.

Nana: Is this true across all species?

Nina: It’s true for most mammals and birds, after adjusting for body size.

Nana: Most?

Nina: Yeah, naked mole rats yawn a lot longer than their brain size would require, but that’s probably because they don’t have sweat glands and other cooling mechanisms most mammals use. I recorded my yawn durations earlier this morning. Let’s do yours now.

Nana: So you have been timing your yawns all morning! What a colossal waste of time. Go get your math books. NOW. GET THEM NOW.

Nina: Cool it Nana. You need to yawn so your brain doesn’t overheat. Come on. Just watch me. <yawn>

Nana: <yawn>. Go away you horrible girl. <yawn> Go away now! <yawn> I hate you. <yawn>

Nina: You seem to be particularly hot-headed, right now. I wonder why ;)


This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Lavanya Srinivasan. Her posts can be found here.

Tags: learn, funfact, Nina and Nana, family, biology, science, animals, kids, psychology