If you've ever read an article on your computer screen and stopped to realize you have no idea what you just read, you've experienced something similar to highway hypnosis.
A commuter train engineer told investigators he was in a "daze" moments before the Dec. 1 derailment that killed four people in New York City. That could have been highway hypnosis, experts say.
"When we're tired, effectively there's a change in the state of our brain that results in that information just not getting to those centers where we actively, consciously process it," said Sean Meehan, a University of Michigan kinesiology professor.
A person who has lapsed into highway hypnosis is experiencing slowed brain activity, Meehan said, meaning different parts of the brain aren't communicating with one another as frequently as when the person is fully conscious. It's actually similar to the brain activity of someone who is asleep, and is most likely to occur in a driver who is tired, he said.
As a result, the driver's reaction time is slowed, he said.
By Sidney Lupkin, Health Reporter, via Good Morning America.
Image: Getty Images