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    For the many who suffer from motion sickness, there could be hope.

    Scientists from Imperial College London are developing a treatment that could end the misery of motion sickness. The researchers found that, by suppressing certain brain signals, they could speed up a person's ability to adapt to motions that had previously caused symptoms of motion sickness such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

    For example, while people are on a boat or rollercoaster, most are prone to a mild queasy feeling at some point. Studies show 3 out of 10 people suffer more unpleasant symptoms of motion sickness that can include dizziness, severe nausea and cold sweats.

    In the scientific journal Neurology, researchers published their findings that explained how motion sickness occurs when what the eyes see and what the inner ear senses get confused. When investigating what can influence a person's sense of balance, Dr. Qadeer Arshad, clinical scientist working on the research, pin-pointed the idea for treating motion sickness.

    Arshad said, "We know that people without a functioning balance system are almost immune or highly resistant to developing the cardinal symptoms of motion sickness, which are nausea and vomiting. And so we developed a separate line of research; a way of using brain stimulation to suppress the signals from the inner ear and the brain. And so we thought that if we suppress signals at the level of the brain from the inner ear, then this would be highly effective against motion sickness."

    Collaborating in the study at Imperial College London was world expert on motion sickness, Professor Michael Gresty who said it's the conflict in the brain that triggers the feelings of nausea as it struggles to figure out what position the body is in. Gresty said, "The reason that we can't understand these motions; the brain if you like can't understand these motions, is that there's continual conflict between what is upright and whether you should lean to balance yourself in the environment or whether you're actually experiencing a sideways acceleration force. You imagine being on a bicycle or a motorbike; you go round a corner, you lean into the corner which remains perfectly upright in physics. You don't so that in a car, you don't do that on a ship - you're actually struggling to find out what is upright and what's the best way of dealing with it."

    At Charing Cross Hospital in London, England, experiments carried out at the Department of Neuro-Otology tested subjects who were first asked to sit in a motorized rotating chair that also tilts to simulate the motions that tend to make people sick on boats or rollercoasters. Arshad said during the experiments, subjects were rotated at 72 degrees per second, equaling one revolution every five seconds, with the chair tilted at 17 degrees, generating a frequency that is particularly nauseagenic.

    The experiment was used to determine each individual's vulnerability to motion sickness. Arshad said, "What we wanted to do was compare each individual to themselves, because people have varying degrees of susceptibility. So we initially go people on the chair and found out how susceptible they were, so we measured how long it took them to develop motion sickness. We then applied a stimulation; either the test or the control, i.e. the placebo. And then we re-measured how long it took to develop motion sickness."

    Volunteer subjects wore electrodes on their heads for about 10 minutes while again undergoing motion in the simulator, once their level of susceptibility had been determined. The application of a mild electrical current to the scalp caused the brain to suppress responses in an area responsible for processing motion signals, known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The results - subjects found to be less likely to feel nauseous and recovered more quickly.

    Arshad said, "So what we found was that when we used the test condition, we found that it took longer for the individual to develop motion sickness and that they also recovered faster. Whereas in the control group they developed motion sickness sooner than the first time and they took longer to recover."

    Arshad says after further lab based experiments, the next step is to field test the device to determine how quickly it can speed up a person's adaptability to motion sickness in the real world.

    A consumer device - one that the individual could simply plug into their smart phone and attach to their scalp - could be readily available, per researchers, within ten years.
    Researches added that there is no reason to expect any adverse effects from short term use since the electrical currents are so small.

    Gresty said, "The technique has been around for some time, we've been using it for a long time. And for these very small amounts of electricity that you're putting through the brain there are no reported unwanted side effects or interactions. So the chances of it becoming a commercially viable prospect are quite imminent really."

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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