Common Painkiller Hinders Brains’ Ability to Spot Errors

Monday, April 11, 2016

Proofing Errors

Researchers from the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, Canada have undertaken a research which reveals that a common and effective painkiller, acetaminophen, could block brains’ ability to spot errors.

The study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience is the first neurological study to investigate how acetaminophen hampers brains’ response with making errors. Previous researches have shown acetaminophen not only affects physical pain but also feelings of social rejection, uncertainty and evaluative processing. The latest study shows that acetaminophen affects all these symptoms by reducing the distress associated with any kind of cognitive conflict whether the source is physical, social or more abstract.

Scientists during the research employed two groups of 30 participants each and involved them in a Go or No Go task. Participants were required to hit a ‘Go’ button every time the letter F flashed on a screen but refrain from hitting the button whenever the letter E flashed on the screen. Scientists were looking for Error Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Related Positivity (Pe) in the participants. One group which was administered 1,000 mg of acetaminophen showed smaller Pe while making mistakes than those who did not receive a dose. This clearly suggested that acetaminophen hinders error recognising capability.

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