On the Brain: Does a full bladder free your mind?
March 2nd, 2011
06:03 PM ET

On the Brain: Does a full bladder free your mind?

This week there's a somewhat bizarre study about whether judgment improves after drinking copious amounts of water, as well as research in Alzheimer's disease and early childhood mental disorders.

A little self-control
Don't make a hard decision with an empty bladder, suggests new research from the Netherlands. In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, psychologists at the University of Twente demonstrate that bladder control is related to same part of the brain associated with feelings of desire and reward, the Telegraph reports. And people who drank five cups of water in the study made better decisions than those who took small sips. That's perhaps because feelings of inhibition are all connected in the brain so self-control about one thing can "spill over" (haha) into something else, Discover writes. But before you change your bathroom habits, consider that this  shows only  a correlation between drinking water and good choices; we don't know that a full bladder causes any mental advantages. (Frequent urination? Find out what's normal)

Inside anesthesia
There's still a lot of mystery surrounding the way anesthesia works, and Dr. Emery Neal Brown is seeking to make things clearer. Brown, at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, has done brain imaging research on people under anesthesia to see what's happening in your head when you're put under. He's found that there is a level of regular brain activity happening even when a person is "out." The New York Times has an interview with him.

Family history matters
If your mother had Alzheimer's disease, you have a heightened risk of getting it too - higher than if your father had it, says a new study from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in the journal Neurology. None of the participants in the study had dementia, but those who had a mother with Alzheimer's disease showed brain abnormalities in areas relating to memory, among others. The Los Angeles Times reports.

Mental illness from infancy?
If you think that there's a minimum age for mental illness, you're wrong, according to researchers in the journal American Psychologist. Trauma can influence the youngsters' mental development, but also the challenges of everyday life can lead to feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety. But there are few psychologists who specialize in early childhood mental health. Researchers urge more support programs in this area.

Inside bipolar disorder
Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a fascinating explanation of what goes on in the brain of a person with bipolar disorder. Check it out.

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Misty

    That is perhaps the most absurd thing I've ever read. My attention span certainly cannot exceed my bladder capacity!

    March 2, 2011 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Sure you can focus better when your bladder is full. You want to get whatever it is done and over with so you can get to the bathroom sooner.

      March 3, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Agreed. CNN's reporting is horrible.

      Here's a free idea for CNN executives. Instead of trying to Out-Fox Fox News, why don't you go the other direction? Less flashy, less stupid articles. More honesty and more old-fashioned journalism. Instead of chasing say, WikiLeaks for your headlines, go out and MAKE them. Not by asking people to text message you a story idea. But by real journalism. It is so sorely lacking in the media you will stand out if you do this. People will watch just for real news.

      March 3, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
  2. glenda

    Yes, that's why I pee before I go to bed, and first thing when I get up. AHHHHH!

    March 2, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. luvsunshine

    Good grief. Hasn't anyone considered that the brain just works better when you're hydrated?

    March 2, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rhonda

      Exactly! This article was not written with enough research! Every organ in your body functions better when it has been hydrated with water, EVERY organ, including, duh, the brain!

      March 3, 2011 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
  4. Lola

    As a middle-aged woman constantly in search of restrooms, I can tell you tha the brain goes onto efficiency mode when the bladder is full. It's "get this over with so I can GO!"

    March 2, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Tammy

    100 pct in agreement with Lola ! Though luvsunshine is probably scientifically right.

    March 3, 2011 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mmi16

    Lola is the winner!

    March 3, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 3, 2011 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tcat

    No, a full bladder makes you have to pee.

    March 3, 2011 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Brian

    I think this is bunk. When my bladder is full the only thing I can think of is where is the nearest restroom so I can empty it! I have to agree with luvsunshine, if there is anything to this at all, it is that your brain and your body for that matter just functions better if you are properly hydrated.

    March 3, 2011 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pandorashope

      Yes, I think you are on the right track. A lot of individuals are constantly in a state of dehydration without being aware of it simply because they only drink when they are thirsty. By the time you feel thirst, your body is already starting to suffer from the effects of dehydration.

      May 17, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
  10. Jorge

    Now I'm SURE that too many Northern European countries have tons of grant money burning holes in their pockets, just waiting for underqualified college research hacks to dig into. Next thing you know, some Helvetic bozo will stick a microscopic speaker up a midge's cloaca, tear off it's wings, say "flea fly" into a microphone, see the bug just lie there, determine that insects with no wings are deaf and demand six-figure money for it.

    March 3, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. wherearetheheros


    Bladder battle

    It feels like part of me is dying
    And it wants to kill me
    Take the rest of me down with it
    Drowned and bludgeoned
    Panic is as close to logic as I can get in these times
    I am a wounded animal searching for water and refuge from the pack of wolves at my heels
    I feel all the pain of everyone who has ever been here
    I feel every vibration all the way to the core of the earth
    I will never drink water again
    Think of a desert
    Think a hardened sponge

    There are no waterfalls

    I must rise above
    Rise above

    What’s this
    A bush

    An oasis

    I don’t care if the whole world is watching

    March 3, 2011 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Ben Shore

    Wow. I guess this means that my decision making skills aren't so impaired when I drink and then have a full bladder the rest of the night.


    March 3, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Henkv

      All depends on what you drink?

      March 3, 2011 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    "Feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety" are mental illness now? Does that mean mental illness affects 100% of all mammals that have ever lived? Yes, it apparently does.

    March 3, 2011 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. POD

    Depends on what fills your bladder....if it was two six packs of beer....I wouldn't be making any improtant decisions if I got to go

    March 3, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Joe

    Maybe people could improve their concentration skills IF, the sources of media they access don't throw in mixed text colors, a bunch of hotlinks out to other articles IN LINE with the article. Add links to other stories that have NOTHING to do with the story you're currently reading, and get rid of the flashing/dancing/blinking/obnoxious ads along the edges. MAYBE that's why we're all turning to mush-brained idiots.

    March 3, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Pee Pee Herman

    Yes. It means all the pi$$ has left your brain, making it easier to think.

    March 3, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Les

    I don't know if a full bladder can free your mind, but it can dampen your pants!

    March 3, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mark

    Some people just have too much time (and funding) on their hands. When my bladder is full, my only concern is relief. Heck, I'd press the red nuke'em button if I had to just to get to the restroom.

    March 3, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Angela

    I had to pee whilst reading this article. After reading it I played some chess on a difficult setting. I won two and lost one. I relieved myself, came back and played three more games; lost all three. Maybe it’s a placebo but who knows.

    March 3, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. JoJo

    Never eat yellow snow.

    March 3, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ur-in-trouble

    A man is getting examined by a very nice looking female doctor. She says 'You must stop masturbating", and he asks 'Why?". She says 'Because I am trying to examine you!'

    March 3, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Zippy234

    Marijuana frees your mind. Water cures the cotton mouth.

    March 3, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cheech

      And Doritos cure the munchies....

      March 3, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
  23. ps

    A full bladder will free the mind from other worries, especially if you are worried all the time about The Leak!

    March 3, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Darlene Buckingham

    No more washroom breaks for politicians.

    March 3, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Henkv

      No worries. Politicians are full of #2, not of #1.

      March 3, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  25. brokenteeth

    Umm , no the mind only thinks of one thing – I need to relieve this full bladder before I burst .

    March 3, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Bill W

    I recent study found that if you drink five cups of water and then urinate in your pants it causes embarrassment whereas
    urinating on someone's lawn causes enjoyment.

    March 3, 2011 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mango Meat

      If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.

      March 3, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      That was the grossest thing I've ever heard in my life.

      March 4, 2011 at 02:27 | Report abuse |
  27. herrsonic

    Full bladder frees my mind from everything else except peeing.

    March 3, 2011 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Amitzahandreanias

    I HAVE GENERATED OVER 650 MYSPACE PAGES FOR MY CARTOON & NOW DOOING THEM ON FACEBOOK ( ABOUT 6! sites so far) & I do more sites & more effectively when I have to pee & hold it back.. once I go I just want to lay back and chill...they might be right!

    March 3, 2011 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Amitzahandreanias

    I HAVE GENERATED OVER 650 MYSPACE PAGES FOR MY CARTOON & NOW DOOING THEM ON FACEBOOK ( ABOUT 60 sites so far) & I do more sites & more effectively when I have to pee & hold it back.. once I go I just want to lay back and chill...they might be right!

    March 3, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kent Bowen

    Does a full bladder free your mind?

    Only when it is emptied. Have you seen Steve Martin in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?"

    March 3, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mango Meat

    If I need to go pee, all I think about is not peeing my pants. Nothing else matters. And who the heck wants to get kidney problems?

    March 3, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Henkv

    Die goeie ouwe nederlanders! At the age of 60 I constantly have a full bladder, and I finally found something positive about it. 🙂

    March 3, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Thoth2012

    I noticed a relation of the Bladder to the Brain 5 years ago with my daughter. At 4 she started sleepwalking sporadically ( I was also a sleepwalker starting at the same age). She would act like she was in a different world, seeing things that were not there and speaking to people that were not there. She would stare at the TV laughing even though it was off, as if she is watching a show. I would just watch her to be sure she does not hurt herself buth otherwise just try to encourage her to go back to bed, but one time I took her to the bathroom to see if she had to go and she went ALOT. When she started peeing she started wimpering like she is crying or very sad. When she was dont I put her in the bed and she went right to sleep! I found this interesting and observered future sleepwalking episodes regarding this. Sure enough the times that she did sleepwalk (almost always exactly 90 minuites after she fell asleep) is times she did not go to the bathroom before bed. Each time I took her to the bathroom to pee (even though she showed no indication of having to go when sleepwalking). She always pees alot, wimpers, becomes sad, then falls right asleep.

    There is definitely a connection between the bladder and the mind, emotions and the unconcious sleep state.. i've lived it myself and seen it in my daughter regularly for the past 5 years!

    March 3, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sockpuppet

      well it would make sense that when her bladder gets full to bursting, her body is trying to wake her up to go to the bathroom, but not fully accomplishing that....as far as her whimpering, well it can be almost painful to pee if your bladder gets too full, so that seems normal for a child.

      March 4, 2011 at 02:30 | Report abuse |
  34. sockpuppet

    That explains why when I peed my pants, it felt like a brain-drain

    March 4, 2011 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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