While the drug’s reputation as a “liver killer” is well-documented, new research suggests that Tylenol might also affect more than just abdomen-adjacent organs. Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada published findings in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience that shows a correlation between the over-the-counter pain killer Tylenol (also known commonly as acetaminophen) and the brain’s ability to spot errors and make decisions.
Despite its popularity, Tylenol does pose a few risks. A report from 2013 showed it’s surprisingly easy to overdose from Tylenol, since it can easily damage your liver, which is why it’s not recommended that you use the medication to fight a hangover. But the new study posits that Tylenol can slightly impair your cognitive function when using it to treat other ailments.
Hmm, a pharmaceutical that makes your brain fuzzy? Who woulda’ thought?
“We tested this hypothesis using event-related potentials (ERPs).” said the team.
The team had 62 participants perform a double-blind, randomized experiment that involved half of the participants taking the maximum recommended dose of Tylenol, 1,000 milligrams, and the other half taking placebos.
Next, the participants performed a test that involved hitting a certain button when an “F” appeared on a computer screen, and not hitting the button when an “E” appeared (a test known as a No/NoGo test) with the intention of gauging how fast and accurate a person’s decisions are.
“Participants’ ERPs were observed following errors on the Go/NoGo task, in particular the error-related negativity (ERN; measured at FCz) and error-related positivity (Pe; measured at Pz and CPz).”
The group that took the Tylenol ended up hitting the button when “E” appeared and also missed the “F” pop-ups more frequently than those who took the placebo. According to the team, this indicates that Tylenol could make it harder for a person to make accurate, quick decisions.
“Results show that acetaminophen inhibits the Pe, but not the ERN, and the magnitude of an individual’s Pe correlates positively with omission errors, partially mediating the effects of acetaminophen on the error rate,” added the team in a language I’m not entirely sure is common American-English.
As it stands, there is only the correlation between taking Tylenol and making more mistakes, from a relatively small sample size, and the researchers aren’t ready to offer up any biological explanations. But the team believes there is something interesting going on that needs further testing.
You try to tell me not to take Tylenol when I have an unstoppable fever or a deafening headache and I will find my fingers, palm, and knuckles pressed against your face. #BitchSickSlap