A Small Shock Could Zap Your Motion Sickness

Scientists think they could eradicate travel misery within a decade
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2015 7:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Motion sickness is, some scientists think, caused by conflicting messages that our ears and eyes send to our brain when we are in motion. In three out of 10 of us, it can be downright debilitating, resulting in cold sweats, dizziness, severe nausea, and more. But now researchers at Imperial College London are reporting in the journal Neurology that they've built a device that can essentially trick the brain into not being confused via a mild electrical current delivered through the scalp. Not only did it help the volunteers in the study feel less sick when placed in a rotating chair that can "make you very sick, very quickly," lead researcher Dr. Qadeer Arshad tells CBS News, but it can even be preventative, and all without adverse effects.

Arshad is so confident in his team's findings that he predicts the device will be ready in five to 10 years, and that the misery of motion sickness will then be a thing of the past. "We hope it might even integrate with a mobile phone, which would be able to deliver the small amount of electricity required via the headphone jack," Arshad says. "You would temporarily attach small electrodes to your scalp before traveling—on a cross channel ferry, for example." The technology might even extend to other applications since the treatment enhances concentration, too. Arshad says he's already fielded interest from the military, "and we imagine that other groups such as students and people who spend long periods playing computer games will also want to try it out." (Nearly one in five injuries at theme parks are thanks to motion sickness.)

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