If this is true, according to the researchers of Atsushi Senju, the contagion would be denied to people who find it very difficult to assess others' emotions. Because such inability is typical of autism, the researchers tested on 24 autistic and 25 healthy children as they responded to video footage of people yawning. The result confirmed the assumptions: the autistic children did not get animated, while the small control subjects yawned more often than usual during the test, as expected.
The clear difference between the two groups can be interpreted as confirmation of the thesis of empathy, write the researchers. However, further studies are needed to confirm this link, as there are other potential explanations. For example, autistic people are often fixated on the mouth of their counterparts and pay little attention to the eye area, the scientists explain. However, according to current knowledge, it is precisely the eyes that convey the most important triggers for the contagious yawn. In addition, it must be ruled out that a defective mirror neuron system was responsible for the results. This network of nerve cells is responsible for understanding observed movements and actions and to learn from them.Atsushi Senju (University of London) et al .: Biology Letters, online pre-release, DOI: 10.1098 / rsbl.2007.0337 ddp / science.de? Ilka Lehnen-Beyel advertisement