As anyone who struggles with motion sickness can tell you, killing time during a road trip can be a complicated endeavor, especially when you can’t lose yourself in a good book for fear of getting sick. Insider interviewed Dr. Ooha Sushmita To find out what causes some people to feel nauseous when reading in a car, Insider talked with a neuropsychiatrist
Reading in the car causes a ‘sensory mismatch’
The sickness is caused by a disconnect between the systems responsible for someone’s balance and spatial orientation or, as Susmita explained, “a conflict between the information received by their eyes and the sensations felt by their inner ears.”
Your brain thinks you’re moving in the car because it is perceiving motion through your inner ear, while your eyes are focusing on a stationary object, Susmita said.
“This creates a sensory mismatch, as your eyes are sending signals that you are not moving, in contradiction to your inner ears, which detect motion and changes in direction,” she said. “This sensory conflict, leading to a disruption in the body’s normal sense of balance, can result in symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, sweating, and sometimes, vomiting.”
Reading, specifically, “requires focused attention and fine visual tracking” which makes the sensory mismatch even worse, she said. It is also important to note that your peripheral vision is not able to perceive motion, even though you can feel the movement of the vehicle in your inner ear.
But it’s also important to remember that this feeling is not experienced by everyone, as sensitivity to such issues varies from person-to-person.
But, there is bad news for those who love to read and get car sick: Susmita advises anyone with motion sickness not to read in the vehicle.
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