This is Why You Stick Out Your Tongue While Concentrating

This is Why You Stick Out Your Tongue While Concentrating

Jennifer Hunter
Jul 8, 2015
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I have a quirky little habit that I bet some of you share. Every morning I lean into the bathroom mirror to apply my mascara and find myself sticking out my tongue. Well, I finally figured out why I do this and it's a fascinating explanation.

Maybe you do this too or perhaps you've noticed your child sticking out his tongue while doing certain tasks? According to a Science of Us article, this habit is most often observed in kids (I guess I'm just a kid at heart).

Here's what Research Digest said about it:

The researchers think that adults (presumably excluding Miley Cyrus) suppress their own tongue protrusions because of the cultural connotations of sticking out your tongue.

Interesting! So why do we have the urge to stick out our tongues in the first place?

The theory is that our spoken language evolved from a much more rudimentary communication system based on gestures. When doing certain types of tasks, we tap into that deep-seated part of the brain where language evolved. Hand control and language (that's where the tongue comes into play) have an overlap in the brain!

So when I do the delicate work of coating my lashes with mascara, my brain is working overtime to control my hand moments and my language centers are triggered. Always good to get to know my own brain a little better.

Read about the fascinating study that illustrates the theory at the Science of Us or, for the science-y version, check out August issue of Cognition where the researchers behind the study published their findings.

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