Tuesday November 13, 2018

Ever wondered why you Itch when another person scratches in front of you?

The researchers found a chemical in the brain that makes them want to scratch when seeing someone else do it

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A person itching, Wikimedia
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New York, March 10, 2017: Ever wondered why you itch when another person scratches in front of you? A new study shows that scratching, just like yawning, is socially contagious and not a psychological response.

According to researchers, itching is highly contagious. Sometimes even its mention could make someone scratch.

“Many people thought it was all in the mind, but our experiments show it is a hardwired behaviour and is not a form of empathy,” said lead investigator Zhou-Feng Chen, director at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, US.

In the study, conducted on mice, the researchers found a chemical in the brain that makes them want to scratch when seeing someone else do it.

Further, the findings, published in the journal Science showed that the behaviour is hardwired in the brains, rather than a form of empathy with the original scratcher.

The chemical, GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide) — a key transmitter of itch signals between the skin and the spinal cord — caused mice to scratch when they saw others doing it. When it was blocked, they stopped.

“The mouse doesn’t see another mouse scratching and then think it might need to scratch, too. Instead, its brain begins sending out itch signals using GRP as a messenger,” Chen said.

“It’s an innate behaviour and an instinct. We’ve been able to show that a single chemical and a single receptor are all that’s necessary to mediate this particular behaviour,” Chen added.

However, when the GRP receptor were blocked in the mice’s brains, they did not scratch when they saw others scratch.

The results may open new ways of treating people who suffer from chronic itching and skin diseases by developing a drug that blocks GRP, the researchers noted.

–IANS

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Contagious yawning: Why we yawn when someone else does? Read to find out

The findings of Research on why is yawning so so contagious?

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Why we yawn when someone else does?
Why we yawn when someone else does? Pixabay
  • Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn, it is a common form of Echophenomena
  • The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning
  • Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Ever wondered why even if we are not tired, we yawn if someone else does? Why is yawning so contagious?

It is because the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in a brain area responsible for motor function, a research suggests.

Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn – it is a common form of Echophenomena -the automatic imitation of another’s words (echolalia) or actions (echopraxia).

The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning. And no matter how hard we try to stifle a yawn, it might change how we yawn but it won’t alter our propensity to yawn.

Also Read: Ever wondered why you Itch when another person scratches in front of you?

“This research has shown that the ‘urge’  is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning,” said Georgina Jackson, a Professor at the University of Nottingham.

“The findings may be important in understanding the association between motor excitability and the occurrence of Echophenomena in a wide range of conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilepsy, dementia, autism, and Tourette syndrome,” added Stephen Jackson, a Professor at the University.

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to analyze volunteers who viewed video clips showing someone else yawning and were instructed to either resist yawning or to allow themselves to yawn.

“If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them. We are looking for potential non-drug, personalized treatments, using TMS that might be effective in modulating imbalances in the brain networks,” Jackson said.

Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too. (IANS)