A sudden tap on our shoulder, a sudden loud explosion or any other unexpected event leaves most of us open-mouthed with a loud gasp.
But why do we do this? The answer lies in our past.
Basically, this process is linked to our survival mechanism and has come down to us through evolutionary stages.
When humans are faced with a potential threat, the amygdala is a part of the brain that activates our physiological response.
When we hear or see something that makes us feel threatened, this part of the brain sends a warning signal to the hypothalamus, the brain’s command center.
The brain’s command center activates the nervous system because it determines our response to danger or stress.
When the nervous system is activated, various hormones in the body such as adrenaline are activated.
Increased levels of adrenaline cause a number of changes in the body that are meant to help us think or move faster.
We start to breathe deeply to draw more oxygen into the body, our heart starts to beat faster to get oxygen to the muscles and organs that are important to deal with potential danger.
Simply put, gaping is a fear-related emotion that prepares us for a physical response to potential danger and also makes it easier to draw in more oxygen.
In ancient times, this reaction helped humans to avoid dangerous situations, but in the present era, we experience this condition even in situations that do not pose any real danger.
So after taking deep breaths on an unexpected blow, our condition recovers and the body calms down.