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Why Is Itching Contagious?

Why Is Itching Contagious?

Feeling itchy? You may have a case of the social itch. Similar to yawning, itching may be a contagious action. In a study, volunteers were twice as likely to scratch themselves when viewing footage of other people scratching themselves versus seeing other people doing nothing. Watching people scratch produces similar brain activity to when people feel itches on their own. Researchers have found that primates also exhibit social itching.

The Royal Institution
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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Research suggests that itching is quite contagious. 00:01

  2. Watching people scratch produces similar brain activity to when people feel itches on their own. 00:23

  3. Mirror neurons are active when we perform an action, as well as when the same action is performed by another person. 01:38

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