sangre_fria: (Default)
Yesterday was a bit odd, but odd in a good way.

A couple weeks ago, I had agreed to take part in a psychological study. Basically there are all these flyers hanging around the Zoology building, asking for volunteers to be subjects in studies. Well, this one was offereing thirty pounds for anyone who would do it. So what can I say? I'm a broke college kid; I sold my body to science.

On Wednesday, I came in for the "training session". Basically, I sat alone in a dark room for a few hours, staring at a computer screen and trying to locate little keys that had been hidden in pictures. I had to keep my chin perfectly still on a chin-rest so they could track all my eye movements while I searched the scenes. I was told to come back again on Thursday to do the actual test; and I was told to bring shampoo, because they would have to put some gel in my hair.

So I went back yesterday, and the real fun started. I had to keep still while they connected electrodes to my head; two behind my ears, and one under my eye. Then they put a special cap on my head, covered in electrodes. The aforementioned gel was a special kind that could pass on electrical signals, so the electrodes could sense the signals directly from my brain. It was so surreal...Sitting there, staring at the monitor showing all the wiggles and lines of my brain activity.

"Okay, now just relax and try to clear you mind completely."

So I did, and all the lines suddenly smoothed out. But every time I blinked, there would be a little spike; and every time I smiled, there would be tons of larger spikes. It was weird to realize that these sensors weren't sensing my movement, per say...They were sensing the actual nerve impulses that were being sent from my brain to my muscles.

Yeah, this was possibly one of the coolest things I've ever done.

"You have to try your best not to move at all, but don't tense up; don't blink while a scene is being shown, because any movement will cause spikes in the middle of the experiment. Now, you're going to be in the dark room again, but I want you to try to be as alert as possible. If you start to get sleepy, then the electrodes on the back of your head will start showing big alpha waves."

I have to admit, it was a bit like meditation, though. Being alone in the dark, concentrating so hard while at the same time trying to be so utterly relaxed. Having to focus on the task at hand, but still having tight control over my body...When to blink, when to swallow, when to take a deeper breath, so I wouldn't fiddle with the data they were collecting.

In the end, it seemed to work. I asked if they would be able to use it, because you usually have to throw out some bad results in these types of studies.

"Yes, it was wonderful. You have beautiful data."

Is that not the geekiest compliment you've ever heard? Too bad it was too late for Valentine's Day...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
You have such beautiful data...
Can I experiment on you?

So we took all the electrodes off, and I ended up leaning over a sink, scrubbing all the gel out of my hair. To tell you the truth, it was all very relaxing, actually. Hey, not only had I gotten a free head massage (when they were applying the gel) and the chance to refine my meditation techniques (while performing the experiment), but then I got to take my time washing my hair beauty-salon-style (over the sink, with a little spray nozzle they have for that purpose). And then before I left, I signed some invoices and was handed thirty pounds in cash.

Man...I'd be a guinea-pig for science any day...

(We all knew I was a total, geektastic Lab Rat anyway...)


Dec. 16th, 2005 07:48 pm
sangre_fria: (Default)
Man, I love science.

And randomness, too.

...So random...


sangre_fria: (Default)

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