When you gotta go
A strong need to urinate impairs cognitive faculties as much as fatigue or an alcohol buzz, according to researchers at Yale, Brown, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian company CogState.
“Giving people lots of water and making them take tests while squirming in discomfort may seem a bit quirky, but the research helps us evaluate the methods used to measure cognitive change,” said Robert H. Pietrzak, M.P.H., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine. The research garnered the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine from the humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research.
For the study, published in January 2011 in Neurourology and Urodynamics, healthy adults drank 250 milliliters of water every 15 minutes and took cognitive function tests every hour. The resulting impairment in attention and working memory matched that observed in people who have a 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration or have remained awake for 24 hours. The subjects’ cognitive functions “returned to normal almost immediately after voiding.”
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