MAR 12, 2016 11:59 AM PST
The Science Behind Hiccups & Other Weird Involuntary Behaviors
WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
5 3 918

A lot of what goes on in our bodies are within our control: we chose what to eat, how long to stay up, what environment to be in, etc. While we do all these fun things, processes such as breathing and heart beating occur without the need for conscious control. We're alive and well due to the automatic feature of these processes. But what about other involuntary behaviors that don't seem to be tied to survival?

For example, how do hiccups happen and why do we yawn? Hiccups are caused by involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, and usually stop within a short amount of time. You may have come across many tricks to stop hiccups, some involving sticky peanut butter or holding your breath. These tricks seem to have success because increasing the body's carbon dioxide levels an effective way to combat the hiccups. Though scientists know how hiccups happen, they don't exactly know why it happens.

Similarly, we know yawning is associated with sleep and boredom, but scientists really don't know why we yawn. This mystery extends to the entire animal kingdom, and gets even weirder considering yawning is contagious.

Watch to learn more about other involuntary behaviors like eye twitching, sun sneezing, and sleep start.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 07, 2018
Videos
MAY 07, 2018
Everything We Know About Hot Jupiter-Like Exoplanets
There are so many exoplanets out there that it's difficult to keep track of them all, but a significant amount of them are what astronomers refer to as 'Ho
MAY 20, 2018
Videos
MAY 20, 2018
What to Do if Bitten by a Snake
Snake bites can be scary; not just because they're painful, but also because it can be tough to discern whether the attacking snake is venomous or not. Nev
MAY 20, 2018
Videos
MAY 20, 2018
Why Are Peppers Spicy?
Peppers are plants and those that are spicy use their spiciness as a defense mechanism against predation. In fact, scientists thought that pepper plants ev
JUN 04, 2018
Videos
JUN 04, 2018
The trick to surviving quicksand
Getting stuck in quicksand really isn't the way you want to go. But here are some tricks you should know in case you ever find yourself in a stick
JUN 04, 2018
Videos
JUN 04, 2018
What is the South Atlantic Anomaly?
As satellites orbit the Earth, they must be careful to shut down while passing through particular areas. One of such areas is the South Atlantic Anomaly, w
JUN 14, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 14, 2018
Beware of Hotel Room Germs
Recently the CDC came out with a study that showed nearly 1/3 of swimming-related illnesses from 2000-2014 could be traced back to pathogens found in hotel
Loading Comments...