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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Acetaminophen makes it Harder to recognize Errors

Posted by Prahallad Panda on 6:53 AM Comments


Dan Randles and researchers from the University of British Columbia researched in a first neurological study to look at the potential of acetaminophen to inhibit the brain response associated with making errors.
It is a well established fact that physical pain and social rejection share a neural process that can be traced to the same part of the brain..
Recent research has begun to show how exactly acetaminophen inhibits pain, while behavioural studies suggest it may also inhibit evaluative responses more generally. Randles own past research has found that people are less reactive to uncertain situations when under the effect of acetaminophen.
In the research, two groups of 30 were given a target-detection task called the Go or No Go. Participants were asked to hit a Go button every time the letter F flashed on a screen but refrain from hitting the button if an E flashed on the screen. "The trick is you're supposed to move very quickly capturing all the GOs, but hold back when you see a No Go," says Randles.
The activity of brain of person was mapped through electroencephalogram (EEG) during the experiment. The researchers were looking for a particular wave called Error Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Related Positivity (Pe). Essentially what happens is that when people are hooked up to an EEG and make an error in the task there is a robust increase in ERN and Pe.
One group, which was given 1,000 mg of acetaminophen -- the equivalent of a normal maximum dose -- showed a smaller Pe when making mistakes than those who didn't receive a dose, suggesting that acetaminophen inhibits our conscious awareness of the error.
Cognitive control is an important neurological function because people are constantly doing cognitive tasks that flow automatically like reading, walking or talking. These tasks require very little cognitive control because they are well mapped out neurological processes, notes Randles.
"Sometimes you need to interrupt your normal processes or they'll lead to a mistake, like when you're talking to a friend while crossing the street, you should still be ready to react to an erratic driver," explains Randles.
"The task we designed is meant to capture that since most of the stimuli were Go, so you end up getting into a routine of automatically hitting the Go button. When you see a No Go, that requires cognitive control because you need to interrupt the process."
The study was double blind, so neither the researcher running the study nor the participant knew whether they had been given a placebo or acetaminophen.
An unexpected and surprise finding that Randles plans to explore more closely is that those who received an acetaminophen dose appeared to miss more of the Go stimuli than they should have. He plans on expanding on the error detection aspect of the research to see whether acetaminophen is possibly causing people to "mind wander" and become distracted.
"An obvious question is if people aren't detecting these errors, are they also making errors more often when taking acetaminophen? This is the first study to address this question, so we need more work and ideally with tasks more closely related to normal daily behaviour."
The research is published in the current edition of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
The news published in the Sciencedaily can be accessed here.


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