8/21/2012 4:30 PM ET|
Another drinking-and-driving problem
Everyone knows you shouldn't drink and drive, but you're also taking risks when you drive with a full bladder, a study inadvertently finds.
The brain researcher and his colleagues simply wanted to examine how pain affects reaction and recall in humans. But it so happens that one safe and easy way to induce pain is to withhold the urge to urinate. And intoxication serves as a good comparative tool for cognitive dysfunction.
Which is how the researchers, whose paper is drably titled "The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults," became famous in the blogosphere for scientifically concluding that if you really, really have to go, you are about as capable behind the wheel as a drunk.
"It certainly did go viral," said Snyder, a professor of neurology at Brown University in Providence, R.I., with a laugh. The research earned his team a 2011 Ig Nobel Prize, awarded for research that makes people laugh, then think.
Indeed, people chuckled. How could they not, with lines like this one from Ernio Hernandez at GuySpeed.com: "If you like to keep up to date with the latest research in peeing, well, urine luck."
Brain teaser: Is this card red or black?
To gauge how well the brain functions on an engorged bladder, Snyder and his team gave healthy volunteers an 8.4-ounce glass of water every 15 minutes, asking them to perform tasks at varying levels of gotta-go.
After 2.3 hours, or nine glasses, the last of the volunteers had cried uncle and hit the head.
"It was at this point where they said, 'I'll do this test one more time, then I'm leaving,' " Snyder says.
This was also the point at which the volunteers had trouble pressing the correct key to signal whether a playing card they had been shown less than a second before was red or black.
By the time the volunteers really had to urinate, they were about as inaccurate on this seemingly simple test as were volunteers with a 0.05% blood alcohol level, the equivalent of about 2.5 drinks consumed in an hour -- and the legal limit for operating a car in Australia, where some of the researchers were located.
It's not just that the pain itself is distracting, says Snyder; it's that actively contracting those gotta-go muscles is fairly intense work, at least neurologically speaking. Exerting such a high level of concentration appears to interfere with nearby areas of the brain that are responsible for reason and problem solving.
"You have to exert voluntary control over muscles that really want to relax," says Snyder.
Do you stay or do you go?
All the Web attention got Snyder to laughing, and to thinking.
And it got other people thinking as well, mostly about the kind of important and vital work they're doing while, apparently, loopy on restraint. Snyder heard from nurses, teachers, medical residents and drivers -- lots of drivers -- all describing how they routinely find themselves many hours away from their last pit stop.
Reporters from British newspaper The Guardian even questioned whether, in light of the study, Prime Minister David Cameron "was in his right mind" when he vetoed an otherwise-unanimous European Union currency treaty last December.
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Too bad all these companies with Call Centers that tell employees when they may use the restroom aren't aware of this study.
As a consumer, I'd like to be helped by a CSR that is focused on assisting with the issue I've called about rather than having
them wonder if they're going to wet their pants! If management can't figure out how to tell if an employee is abusing time away
from their desk without telling people when they can go to the bathroom, we are in serious trouble as a country.
LOL. Well there has to be a study of people who eat a higher than normal fiber diet - how the heck can you control the accelerator or the break when squirming? That's where the portable Hawaii chair comes in handy. Shameful sh1tters (those that can't possibly 'go' at work or any other public place), could modify the original for a retrofit installation in their car to help during the commute home.
I originally had called out the Hawaii chair as one of the "16 things you don't need" - I suppose there could be a use. Infomercial is hilarious, btw.
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