Neurophamacology of yawning

Gregory T. Collins, Jose R. Eguibar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

32 Scopus citations


Yawning is a common behavioral event that is observed in humans, as well as other mammals, birds and reptiles. In humans, yawning often occurs just before bed and upon waking up, and is also associated with tedious or boring situations. Although the physiologic roles of yawning have yet to be fully elucidated, the past 50 years of research has led to a much greater understanding of the neuropharmacologic regulation of yawning. While many of the early studies concluded that yawning was primarily driven by changes in cholinergic neurotransmission, we now know that numerous neurotransmitters and neurohormones are involved in the mediation of yawning, including acetylcholine, dopamine, glutamate, serotonin, oxytocin, GABA, opioids, adrenergics, nitric oxide, as well as the proopiomelanocortin-derived peptides ACTH and α-MSH. Furthermore, antagonist interaction studies have clearly defined at least 3 distinct neural pathways involved in the induction of yawning, as well as the hierarchical order through which these different neurotransmitter systems interact to regulate yawning. The following sections will discuss the state of knowledge for each of the major neurotransmitters and neurohormones involved in the regulation of yawning, their interactions with one another, and their place in the hierarchical organization of yawning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Mystery of Yawning in Physiology and Disease
PublisherS. Karger AG
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783805594059
ISBN (Print)9783805594042
StatePublished - Mar 25 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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