Thursday, July 2, 2009

Experimental evidence that drinking water does not mitigate paralysis caused by English TEA

D. Simón and V. Blanco
Cooperativa Vinícola Los Peñascales, Toledo, Spain

Thesis examiner anxiety (TEA) is a recurrent syndrome affecting to professors and academic researchers that form part of doctoral thesis tribunals too often. In its mild form, TEA manifests in the examiner as an emotional distress caused by a self-demand to elaborate smart and interesting questions on the obscure and unknown subjects of the next day-thesis. English TEA is a strong form of TEA that occurs under circumstances in which foreign languages have to be used by the examiner. English TEA usually leads to acute throat stinging and cough attacks, cold sweat, short-term paralysis, and, eventually, to uncoupled perception of reality, deep feelings of self-pity, and complete loss of judgement. In the official ceremonies for thesis defences, it is customary to provide thesis examiners with a small bottle of mineral water, to be drunk during the questioning of the examinee about the grand discoveries and the small faults of the thesis work. It is well documented that, in such difficult moments, the thesis examiner, surrounded by expert colleagues and by emotive relatives of the young aspirant to doctor, feels absolutely alone, and it is assumed by all that drinking water alleviates stress and helps to circumvent the eventual burst of a TEA episode. However, no experimental proof of such an hypothesis has been provided so far. Here, we have tested the role of drinking water as a preventive therapy for English TEA, using a behavioural rat model of permanent paralysis that mimics this disease. After two weeks of training in a Y-shaped labyrinth to find a source of dry food, rats were challenged to find the food in a I-shaped labyrinth, from which food had been removed. Under these conditions, rats stress, get annoyed, and fall into a permanent paralysis, in which cerebellum neuronal circuits are fully collapsed. We have compared the response to I-labyrinth food retrieval of rats that were challenged with the test in the absence or in the presence of drinking water at the beginning of the experiment. Different brands of mineral water were used, as well as regular tap water from different geographic locations. No statistical differences were found in the number of rats that suffered permanent paralysis irrespective of the water supply, the water brand, or the water source. Furthermore, high doses of drinking water, pumped into the mouth of the rat at different times during the test, did not diminish the frequency nor the intensity of the induced paralysis. We conclude that drinking water does not attenuate English TEA paralysis. Our results indicate that alternative beverages, such as cold beer, or a good glass of wine accompanied with olives, could be more advantageous for doctoral thesis examiners in the prevention of episodes of English TEA at thesis defence official ceremonies.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I was trying so hard to make a smart and ingenious comment that suddenly I found myself suffering of what seemed a variant of English TEA syndrome, maybe induced by my latent BAD syndrome. Fortunately I found a nearby source of fresh water which calmed my symptoms instantly. Therefore, I encourage the authors to further test their hypothesis working with other more suitable experimental models, e. g. last-year PhD students or first-time thesis examiners.

  3. Dear Dr. Litos,

    Many thanks for your interest and your suggestions. Next time, we will put some PhD students into the labirinth to see what happens.


    Don Simón