Sunday December 17, 2017

Why do Our Eyes Water when We Yawn?

Did you know there are three different types of tears that our eyes shed?

why do our eyes water when we yawn
Teary-eyed after a yawn? We will tell you why! Pixabay

“Why do our eyes water when we yawn?” According to popular opinion, it is because you are tired and you miss your bed, which is why you begin to tear up. Don’t believe us? Well, you shouldn’t.

As much as that rationale seems right (on an emotional level), there is complete science behind the question ‘why do our eyes water when we yawn?’.
To understand this phenomenon, you will first need to understand tear-anatomy. Did you know there are three types of tears that your eyes shed?
1. Emotional Tears: Released upon experiencing intense emotions
2. Reflexive Tears: They serve to remove irritants and contaminants from the eyes like dust, dirt, etc.
3. Basal Tears: They are produced naturally throughout the day to lubricate the eyes.
But our question was :

Why do our eyes water when we yawn?

It is these basal tears that are responsible for the tears when you yawn.
Two components of the face are primarily responsible for our eyes to water when we yawn,
• Facial muscles
• Lacrimal glands
Lacrimal glands are glands that are placed beneath our upper eyelids just below the eyebrow bone.
They produce watery component to our eyes’ own natural tears throughout the day to keep the surface of our eyes coated and moisturized. Thus, our eyes remain moist throughout the day because of the functioning of lacrimal glands (This is also the reason why our eyes look glossy)
There are 43 muscles in the face itself that work together to help us emote. When we yawn, the facial muscles around our eyes begin to tighten.  This exerts pressure on the lacrimal glands and squeezes them a little.
In response, the lacrimal glands may release a little quantity of water which had been stored to release later.
Basal tears typically flow diagonally across the eyes and collect in a structure on the opposite corner of the eye called punctum.
But when we yawn, this water has no passage to get absorbed, and hence it falls out of the eyes, which is why it appears as if we are shedding tears.
Now if you shed a tear or two while yawning, don’t feel like it’s a ‘miss you’ call from your bed; it’s just a natural reaction to feeling tired.
And if the next time somebody asks you, ”why do our eyes water when we yawn?”, don’t shy away from sharing the knowledge!

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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?

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)

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Indian-origin Scientist develops Software that turns Smartphones into an Eye-Tracking device

A discovery that can help in psychological experiments and marketing research

Representational Image- Eye. Image source:

New York: Researchers led by an Indian-origin scientist have developed a software that can turn any smartphone into an eye-tracking device, a discovery that can help in psychological experiments and marketing research.

In addition to making existing applications of eye-tracking technology more accessible, the system could enable new computer interfaces or help detect signs of incipient neurological disease or mental illness.

Since few people have the external devices, there’s no big incentive to develop applications for them.

“Since there are no applications, there’s no incentive for people to buy the devices. We thought we should break this circle and try to make an eye tracker that works on a single mobile device, using just your front-facing camera,” explained Aditya Khosla, graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Khosla and his colleagues from MIT and University of Georgia built their eye tracker using machine learning, a technique in which computers learn to perform tasks by looking for patterns in large sets of training examples.

Currently, Khosla says, their training set includes examples of gaze patterns from 1,500 mobile-device users.

Previously, the largest data sets used to train experimental eye-tracking systems had topped out at about 50 users.

To assemble data sets, “most other groups tend to call people into the lab,” Khosla says.

“It’s really hard to scale that up. Calling 50 people in itself is already a fairly tedious process. But we realised we could do this through crowdsourcing,” he added.

In the paper, the researchers report an initial round of experiments, using training data drawn from 800 mobile-device users.

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On that basis, they were able to get the system’s margin of error down to 1.5 centimetres, a twofold improvement over previous experimental systems.

The researchers recruited application users through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing site and paid them a small fee for each successfully executed tap. The data set contains, on average, 1,600 images for each user.

The team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the University of Georgia described their new system in a paper set to presented at the “Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition” conference in Las Vegas on June 28. (IANS)


2 responses to “Indian-origin Scientist develops Software that turns Smartphones into an Eye-Tracking device”

  1. This can help many doctors. If developed more, the eye tracking software should be able to sensor the eye defects also like Myopia, Hypermetropia, etc so that it becomes easier for the doctors and big machines would be avoided.

  2. Technology has advanced so far to reduce human effort. This new software has wide range of applications and can also help detect signs of incipient neurological disease or mental illness. I believe that this research can revolutionize the medical world.

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Medical negligence: Donated eyes found in Gwalior hospital’s garbage dump



Gwalior: In a shocking incident of medical negligence in Madhya Pradesh, eyes donated for transplant were found in a garbage dump of the government J.A. Hospital on Thursday, officials said. The head of the eye department and two others have been suspended.

Gwalior resident Kishan Gambhir had donated the eyes of his mother after her death but was distraught after learning what befell his contribution.

Taking a serious view of the incident, hospital administrator K.K. Khare ordered the suspension of eye department’s head U.C. Tiwari, professor D.K. Shakya and another official.

As the news spread, many people who had donated eyes of their deceased relatives gathered at the hospital to protest. Some even demanded the eyes be given back to them.