Friday, June 10, 2005

Of pain studies and hidden talents

Recently, I've been signing up for every psychology study that I come across, because I am but a poor, poor starving student that could use the moolah, and also because they keep me occupied. The most recent one was a study on pain and depression. Hmm, I told myself, I am neither depressed nor particularly in the mood to undergo physical pain, so, logically, I signed up. The procedure was the following:
1. Change out of street clothes into a hospital gown (drafty!)
2. Attach heart rate monitor

3. Get blood pressure taken
9 friggin' times (once, when I was little, I'd accompanied my mother to the supermarket and slipped my hand in one of those infernal machines accidentally. It started eating my hand, and I never really got over my fear of them)
4. Get my sensitivity threshold measured. This was done by poking certain areas of my body (knee, shoulder, palm, etc.) with very thin metal rods. There were several rods of different widths, and I had to close my eyes and tell them whether I could feel them poke me or not. Apparently, I'm remarkably consistent in my answers (it's another useless gift I'm graced with, apparently...).
5. Get my pain threshold measured. This was measured by applying pressure to 16 sensitive areas on my body (two of which were on my ass) until I said it hurt. They removed the pressure right away. Again, I'm remarkably consistent in my answers, whether the pressure was applied on my right or left side. The examiner asked me if I was ambidextrous! Another sign that left-handed people are intrinsically superior.
6. My pain tolerance was measured. I had to dunk my pain in cold water (4.5 degrees C, which doesn't SEEM cold, but oh man, is it ever) and keep it there until it hurt. Then, once I stated that it started hurting, I had to keep my hand in the water as long as I could tolerate it. YOUCH!

7. Answer questions (this was probably so they could measure how depressed I am. Actually, the study only asked for women who frequently felt 'low mood', so I'm eligible. Kind of.).
8. Collect 3 saliva samples. One in the morning before I get out of bed, one before I eat dinner, and one right before I go to sleep. Hmm, okay.
Overall, it was pretty fun. It's good pay, and the examiner was a woman, so there was no awkwardness there. Next study on the list? Facial perception! There's another really interesting sounding one where scientists take an MRI scan of your brain while you smell your sister. Darn it! Why does my sister have to live in Congo? Ruin all of my fun ;).
Other than that, I've been pretty busy in my lab recently. Both the teacher and the graduate student went to this 'Biology Retreat', so I've taken over Andrej's project, because it has to be done on particular days. What I'm doing is preparing tissue samples for electron microscopy. So I'll be choosing seed pods ("siliques") exactly 13 days after pollination, for example, and place them in fixative and prepare them to be viewed in the microscope. The reason we're doing this is to get a better picture of how seed development occurs after pollination. Nifty! I hope I'll be able to look at the tissues too. The Electron microscope is new though, and everyone is itching to get their hands on it.
It's so hot here now. I don't understand how a city can be so cold and so hot just six months apart. The humidity is so thick that it seems as though the sun is hidden behind a grey film. I can't wait until the summer thunderstorms begin! Beata and I braved the heat yesterday to go look at all of the Ferrarris parked on Crescent street in honour of the Grand Prix coming up soon. Several streets were blocked off (again!) to better display these cars, and you wouldn't believe what a festival they managed to make out of them.
There's a Hawaiian-theme swing dance party tonight at the Cat's Corner. My costume? Dress as tackilly as possible (as I am lacking in the grass skirt and coconut bra department)! It should be fun. There's plenty people that I know at the Cat's Corner :-)


Blogger Kate said...

all that testing stuff sounds kind of fun. why do they want you to smell your sister?

12:56 p.m.  
Blogger 007 in Africa said...

Does the pain hurt less on your ass? You know because all the insulation... Haha, just kidding.

1:19 p.m.  
Blogger Victoria said...

Dorothee: :'(. Just :'(.
They want to see what parts of your brain become active when you smell a family member as opposed to when you smell a friend.

1:51 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, anytime you want to smell the dog, just tell me. He smells pretty bad at the moment. I'd like to see YOUR brain light up when you get a wift (mine does, no need for a scanner). I guess that means the dog has a keen sense of smell (or does it? Hmmm.....)

2:03 p.m.  
Blogger 007 in Africa said...

I was joking. SHEESH. Who knew teenaged girls could be so touchy about their bodies. Someone should do a study on THAT

10:45 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should mostly take a picture of your expression when you smell Dorothee, that would be funny :)

10:50 a.m.  

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