Scientists at University College London studied thirteen newborn babies. The researchers found that when the babies hiccuped, there was a surge of neural activity. They speculate that hiccuping teaches babies how to regulate their own breathing. CNN reports:
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Scientists found that contractions in the babies’ diaphragms produced three brainwaves, and believe that through the third brainwave babies may be able to link the ‘hic’ sound of the hiccup to the physical contraction they feel.
Kimberley Whitehead, the study’s lead author, told CNN: “The muscle contraction of a hiccup is quite big — it’s good for the developing brain because it suddenly gives a big boost of input, which helps the brain cells to all link together for representing that particular body part.”
Whitehead thinks that hiccuping adults are just engaging in an old reflex that is no longer useful. It’s a holdover from infancy.
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