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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS - Could an Electric Current Stop Motion Sickness?

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A device that sends an electrical current through the brain shows promise of stopping motion sickness.
A device that sends an electrical current through the brain shows promise of stopping motion sickness.

Some people can get motion sickness from being in moving vehicles such as cars or airplanes.

But, a new device could stop motion sickness by suppressing some signals in the brain.

Motion sickness occurs when the motion you sense with your inner ear is different from the motion you see. Symptoms of motion sickness are dizziness, nausea and vomiting. People have tried different ways to prevent the condition, including wrist bands and anti-nausea drugs.

But often, nothing works.

Now, scientists at Imperial College London are working on a device to counteract motion sickness.

Michael Gresty is an expert on the condition.

'You imagine being on a bicycle or motorbike; you go around the corner, you lean into the corner, which remains perfectly upright in physics.

'You don't do 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.'

The device sends a weak electrical current through electrodes placed on a person's head. The electric current appears to cause the brain to suppress signals that affect the inner ear.

Researcher Qadeer Arshad says the scientists found "that it took longer for the individual to develop motion sickness and that they also recovered faster.'

The next step is to test the device outside the laboratory.

Michael Gresty says there are no reports of unwanted side effects from the small amounts of electricity released by the device.

The researchers hope a device that plugs into a smart phone and attaches to the head will be available within 10 years.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

VOA's Deborah Block reported this story from Washington. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Have you experienced dizziness, also known as vertigo? Let us know what it was like in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

symptoms - n. a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease or problem is present

dizziness - n. lightheadedness; a feeling or spinning or movement

nausea - n. an uneasy feeling in the stomach

vomiting - n. expulsion of food or liquids from the mouth

wrist band(s) - n. a colorful ring, usually worn around the wrist or arm

suppress - v. to slow or stop the growth, development, or normal functioning of (something)

plugs - v. to connect or link up to something

attaches - v. connects

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