Black-and-white rug makes people seasick

18:00 AEST Mon Feb 6 2012
The rug's repeating black-and-white pattern.
The rug's repeating black-and-white pattern.

US researchers have discovered a black-and-white patterned rug that makes people feel seasick if they look at it for five minutes.

The researchers stumbled upon the unusual phenomenon after a colleague bought the rug by chance and laid it out in his home, msnbc reports.

As soon as the rug was put down the man and his wife began feeling dizzy, nauseous and disoriented and began to get headaches when they looked at it.

Guests experienced the same problems and the couple eventually got rid of the rug.

Lead author Frederick Bonato, a psychology professor at Saint Peter's College in New Jersey, tested the rug's sickening powers on 22 healthy college students.

The students were asked to look at a photo of the rug while seated for five minutes and then fill in a motion sickness questionnaire to evaluate how they felt.

They rated themselves as feeling queasier and dizzier when staring at the rug than when looking at a photo of a gray poster, according to results published in the journal Perception.

Professor Bonato said they don't know why the rug causes people to feel sick but previous studies have shown that a high contrast repeating pattern can lead to feelings of nausea, eye-strain, visual distress and even seizures in epileptic patients.

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