This Is The Weird Biological Reason Why You Get Car Sick

[Photo: Getty]

Remember how your heart sank when you got sat next to the kid who gets ‘travel sick’ on the school trip coach? Well, the joke’s on you - it turns out that that kid’s body was just doing it’s damnedest to protect them from being poisoned.

Sure, there aren’t many poisonings on the bus to the Isle of Wight - but you never know.

According to Dr Dean Burnett, of Cardiff University, our bodies get totally confused by travelling in motor vehicles.

In his new book ‘Idiot Brain: what your head is really up to’, Dr Burnett explains that our brains figure out where we are by combining signals from our different senses (e.g. sight, touch, sound). But when you’re in a car, you’re moving around but not actually moving your body and your brain concludes from these mixed signals that you must be being poisoned.

[Photo: Getty]

“In evolutionary terms, the only thing that can cause a sensory mismatch like that is a neurotoxin or poison,” the author explained in a radio interview. “So the brain thinks, essentially, it’s been being poisoned.

“So, like, as soon as the brain gets confused by anything like that, it says, ‘oh, I don’t know what to do, so just be sick, just in case’. And as a result, we get motion sickness because of the brain’s constantly worried about being poisoned.”

And why does burying your nose in a book make it worse?

Focusing on the page just exacerbates the inconsistency of sensory messages. Your eyes are telling your body that you aren’t moving but the feeling of the car and the sounds it’s making suggest otherwise.

Researchers still aren’t sure why certain people experience travel sickness more than others. And knowing why it happens is obviously no substitute for a cure - so best to keep that plastic bag close at hand.

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