Picture this: you’re almost ready for the return trip, everything is mounted in the car, the family is on board and within a few minutes the common odyssey for many takes place: that progressive feeling of discomfort, dizziness that often ends in vomiting. What happens? Basically what is happening is that our brain works correctly, although in the wrong context.
Several scientific studies indicate that the car’s own dizziness could be the result of our brain reacting to what it thinks is a sudden attack of poisoning.
When we are in a vehicle, the brain receives conflicting messages about the environment: our body tells us that we are still immediately, but the brain knows that we are moving. The thalamus gathers this information and, although it can deduce what is happening, it often concludes that the culprit is a poison and decides to activate the “emergency system”: vomit.
Experts believe that this type of dizziness occurs because humans have recently started traveling in vehicles such as cars, buses and boats, and our brains have not yet fully adapted.
“As soon as the brain gets confused in these kinds of situations,” explains neuroscientist Dean Burnett in his book Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really At, he says “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just trigger the poisoning alarms, just in case.” And as a result, we get dizzy because the brain is constantly worrying about being poisoned.
Looking out the window can help, because it assures the brain that we are moving and everything is fine. However, reading a book, a map or watching a movie can make things worse, because they are strategies that want to convince the brain that we are really still.
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