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Pathological yawning as a presenting symptom of brain stem ischaemia in two patients
  1. L Cattaneo,
  2. L Cucurachi,
  3. E Chierici,
  4. G Pavesi
  1. Sezione di Neurologia, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università degli Studi di Parma, Parma, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Luigi Cattaneo
 Sezione di Neurologia, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Via Gramsci 14, 43100 Parma, Italy; luigi.cattaneo{at}


Two cases of brain stem stroke involving the upper pons and the ponto-mesencephalic junction presented with transient excessive pathological yawning, associated with gait ataxia and in one subject with upper limb and facial hemiparesis. A causal relation is hypothesised between the brain stem lesion and pathological yawning, possibly related to denervation hypersensitivity of a putative brain stem yawn centre. Excessive yawning may herald brain stem ischaemia.

  • FLAIR, fluid attenuated inversion recovery
  • yawning
  • brain stem stroke

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  • Competing interests: none declared

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