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Acetaminophen inhibits error detection, study suggests – MIMS Malaysia
Pharma Notables

We all know acetaminophen is efficacious at inhibiting physical pain. But could it be inhibiting the pain or distress that should come when we make errors as well?

A study from the University of Toronto suggests this is so. The research team, which included researchers from the University of British Columbia, observed how acetaminophen affects the brain’s response when we make errors.

The experiment was conducted on 62 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either acetaminophen or placebo, following a double-blind study protocol.

Then they were instructed to hit a Go button each time the letter F flashed on a screen. But if it is the letter E that flashes, they should not hit Go.

The test was specifically designed to get people accustomed to hitting Go, so they would need to interrupt their thought process and most likely make a mistake when the E flashes.

What the researchers wanted to measure was how the participants’ brains reacted when the participants made a mistake upon hitting Go when the E flashed or when they missed hitting Go when the F flashed.

To be able to observe the brain’s electrical activity, the participants were hooked to electroencephalograms.

The researchers found out that when people make a mistake, the error related negativity (ERN) wave and the error related positivity wave (Pe) in their brains sharply increased.

However, the Pe increase of those who received acetaminophen (1,000 mg) was more subdued, compared to those who received a placebo.

This suggests that the participants on acetaminophen did not detect that they were making errors in the first place.

“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,” study author and postdoctoral fellow Dan Randles said.

The study, titled Acetaminophen Attenuates Error Evaluation in Cortex, was published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. MIMS

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