Why do so many people get sick when traveling by bus or car?
It's hard to find someone who doesn't like to travel, but it's not uncommon to find people, especially children, who get sick when they hit the road. If we're always on the go, why does traveling make a lot of people feel sick?
According to neuroscientist Dean Burnett, who recently gave an interview to NPR, some people's stomachs can handle roadblocking just as they would poisoning. In terms of evolution, we humans have been driving for a very short time, and our brains haven't gotten used to it yet.
When we are in a vehicle, our brains receive paradoxical information: that we are stationary and that we are moving. This mix of content makes the part of the ear responsible for keeping us in balance screw.
This region contains a liquid that flushes when we are balanced. Because of this, we know whether or not we are lying straight or bent without having to see it. When we are in a moving car, this liquid gives us the notion that we are not standing still - on the other hand, our sight and lack of muscle movement tell us that we are standing still. Then it gets hard.
This conflict between movement and non-movement is even greater for those in the back seat of the vehicle, which is where the passenger has less external vision and does not move at all - yet the ear has the message that the person is at a high speed.
Ultimately, in neurological terms, the brain region that gives us the verdict on whether we are stationary or not is the thalamus. In some cases the hammer is hit and the verdict is neither moving nor static, but that the person has been poisoned. This is because, in terms of evolutionary terms, one of the things that make us lose track of the senses is called neurotoxins.
When our body thinks we have been poisoned, one of the first things it does is make us sick, in an attempt to help us eliminate potential toxins. This is why, then, some people throw up, get dizzy and have a stomachache when traveling. The solution? According to Burnett, looking out the window helps our brains understand that we are moving, even sitting.
If you are the sick type, avoid focusing your attention on static activities such as reading. The thing is to get the brain to understand what's going on and, of course, to always carry a plastic bag - they're not on the buses idly - for emergencies.