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Can birds catch a yawn from another bird? Biopsychologist Andrew Gallup says yes. Gallup, an assistant professor of psychology at SUNY Oneonta, studies contagious yawning in humans and animal populations. A new paper, published in the journal Animal Cognition and co-authored by three SUNY Oneonta students, provides evidence for contagious yawning in budgies. (Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), are also known as parakeets). This is the first experimental evidence of contagious yawning in a non-mammalian species — and only the fifth species overall to show this capacity. Due to recent research linking contagious yawning to empathy, the paper suggests that budgerigars could serve as a good avian model to explore primitive forms of empathic processing. <br />
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The findings that contagious yawning occurs between budgerigars in a controlled laboratory setting corroborate a previous observation of the same thing happening in a flock of these social parrots. In the wild, these birds form lasting bonds within breeding pairs and interact within coordinated flocks throughout the year. In a laboratory setting, budgies are known to automatically imitate video stimuli shown to them.<br />
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Gallup’s team conducted two experiments. In the first, 16 birds were paired in adjacent cages with and without barriers blocking their view. If contagious, yawns should be clustered in time only when the birds can see another. In the second experiment, the same birds were shown separate video clips of a budgie yawning and not yawning.<br />
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Yawning was found to occur three times as often within a five-minute window when the birds could see one another than when their view was blocked from the other bird. When they were viewing video clips of another budgie yawning, yawns occurred twice as often. This response was not the result of stress or anxiety. In a related study, Gallup, working with student researcher Lexi Swartwood, use thermal imaging to monitor minute changes in the birds’ internal temperatu
Can birds catch a yawn from another bird? Biopsychologist Andrew Gallup says yes. Gallup, an assistant professor of psychology at SUNY Oneonta, studies contagious yawning in humans and animal populations. A new paper, published in the journal Animal Cognition and co-authored by three SUNY Oneonta students, provides evidence for contagious yawning in budgies. (Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), are also known as parakeets). This is the first experimental evidence of contagious yawning in a...
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Keywords:
  • research
  • yawning
  • birds