Is Yawning Sexual? Experts Gather to Discuss Yawning

For two days last week, they came to Paris. Over two dozen experts in the field of yawning.

And they came from far afield; academics from Europe, the U.S., India and the Middle East to the first ever International Conference on Yawning.

The topics ranged from "Yawning over a Life Span" to "Yawning in Non-Human Primates" to "The Theory of the Hidden Sexuality of the Yawn."

Video of Senator Harry Reid yawning during Obamas State of the Union.Play

As the researchers pointed out, it's an activity we're all familiar with. The average person will yawn some 240,000 times over the course of a lifetime.

And most people believe we yawn because the influx of air gets us going by sending extra oxygen to the brain. The experts in Paris, however, didn't buy that.

Instead, they agreed that a range of emotional triggers probably sets off the yawn response. Interest, stress and even sexual desire may play a factor. The scientists say it's a complex, significant phenomenon that largely remains a mystery.

Dutch academic and author Wolter Seuntjens told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, "We can send a man to the moon but we cannot explain this most trivial of acts."

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It's his theory that some forms of yawning send out an erotic subliminal message. Of course no one knows for sure, but it's food for thought the next time you catch someone close to you stretching and striking a curious yawn.