Friday, 18 July 2008

Venus and Mars etc.

There are number of interesting articles in this week's NewScientist relating to all kinds of prejudice.

The first, smaller article is based around stereotypes. To cut the very detailed search down to an easy to digest tidbit, researchers simulated a situation were test subjects were left out of a three person game. The subjects had their brain scanned and were questioned afterwards. The group consisted of 12 white males and 13 black males, mostly college students. The two other people playing within the computer simulation were shown as white. The results were markedly different. The white gents involved in the study generally thought the exclusion was for some personal reason, which activated certain bits in their brains. The black gents generally attributed the exclusion to racism and this conclusion activated different, lesser parts of the brain, leading the researchers to speculate that it is less painful, therefore 'easier', to take rejection or negativity if one attributes it to a generalisation than if one thinks it is individual and personal. Interesting concept, and a lovely link up of sociology and brain scans, I thought.

There is also an extensive feature on the unexplored difference between genders on a biological level. The article aims to bring to bear the idea that men and women might actually, neurologically be wired very differently. Reception of pain is explored at length using the anatomy of the male and female brains to illustrate how different sections appear to be activated in each gender. This could explain why men and women are effected by analgesia in different ways, which is fascinating in itself. The article brings up another more important point, which revolves around how rats involved in pain tests are almost certainly male. Given women feel pain much more harshly, this seems to be a huge dropped ball by scientists in related fields and could, tentatively, be linked into the idea that females come second in healthcare, generally. The fact that they could be being treated by analgesia which somewhere in it's phases of testing was biased towards the opposite gender is, in the words of one researched, 'scandalous'.

Lots of things to think over, though.

I wasn't having a good few days recently. My 'good' ear, i.e. the one which is seldom infected, has started to give me the distinct impression that there is some kind of mucus build up inside (lovely...). Another infection, perhaps, but at least it lacks pain. On top of that, lectures aside I've had very little going on. Just staring at these four walls, which makes me a very dull boy.

I'm a big advocate of actually going out, getting the blood pumping and being active when you start to feel glum. So I went out on my bike into town, bough aforementioned copy of NewScientist and did a bit of window shopping with limited retail therapy. The object of my affection was a new, expensive trumpet book, which is all about learning through jazz. Oh yes. I then cashed in a Nero loyalty card - which pissed off the shop guy and made me feel even more gleeful - and got caffienated. I listened to music, drummed my fingers and generally indulged my science geek side and have felt much better ever since, especially considering how moody I was this morning.

My ear is still quite annoying, though. And against my better judgement (I disagree with over prescription of antibiotics within the NHS, especially when I'm not in any pain per se) I might go to the walk-in tomorrow. Joy of joys.

But yeah, funny day. I feel better for kick starting a good mood within myself. My fun weekend has been cancelled, however, so I might be stuck between these four walls for another weekend. If I'm lucky, I might be able to take in some of the current Jazz festival which would just keep these good vibes going. I might even be able to groove this glugging right out of my ear!

Stay tuned.

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