Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Of being a Human Guinea Pig

It might not surprise some of my more regular readers to learn that yesterday I wound up at the Psyciatric Dept. of the hospital. Even now I can sense the relief that some of you feel knowing that the men in white coats finally caught up with me.

Well, sorry to spoil the party, but I'm afraid that any relief will be short lived - I was there as a volunteer for a Decision Making Study.

I saw an advert earlier on in term which wanted volunteers for a study looking at "how the brain makes decisions" and I applied. At the time I was considering postgraduate study in Artificial Intelligence, which also seeks to know how the brain makes decisions and I figured that it might be relevant.

Well it wasn't - for a start I am no longer seriously considering doing a course in AI, but even so it was never really going to be of any use from that PoV.

Still, it was very interesting, and I did earn myself some money.

The day before the study I had to be on a proscribed low protein diet, which wasn't great. Lunch, for example, was just lettuce, tomato, carrot, Hula Hoops and an apple. It's amazing how much of an effect diet has on your ability to stay alert and focussed and by the end of the day I felt terrible. I do wonder how much of that was psychological, though.

Yesterday I arrived at the hospital at 8.30am and, after having a blood sample taken, I was treated to an amino acid drink (which may or may not have contained one specific protein, and tasted seriously bad) and given 5 hours to myself. Imagine that - being paid to work, read the paper, watch Cannonball Run II... - it wasn't bad, really. I was plied with water and given a low protein lunch and then, after another blood sample, I was set various tasks. There were some computer games, based around gambling, and various other things to complete, and it was all quite fun.

By mid afternnoon however I felt terrible again, and wanted nothing more than a nice cuppa. I tell you, I have hardly ever looked forward to dinner in hall as much as I did last night - even if it had turned out to be Pork Cordon Bleuggh (it was some nice salmon, in fact) it wouldn't have mattered.

Whereas it was interesting, it did take a lot out of me. The effect of the diet really did prevent me from getting on as normal and I felt so dazed yesterday evening. Would I do it again? Probably not, but it depends what the study was...Am I glad I did it? Yes. I even suppose that being a medical guniea pig might feature on my imaginary list of things to do before I am 30, and I can now tick it off.

And so to lectures...

1 comment:

Rachael said...

sounds like the pychology expetiment I did for one of my housemates friends... It involved sitting in silence for 30min trying to reduce my stress levels, what a computer measured all sort of stange things and made loads of noise!!!

Hope everying things going ok!