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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Martyr Syndrome

File this under Why do we need to know this right now?
'Torture' to uncover brain secret. Volunteers are to undergo torture to see if faith eases pain.

Oxford University scientists will carry out experiments on hundreds of people in a bid to understand how the brain works during states of consciousness.

One aspect of the two-year study will involve followers of both religious and secular beliefs being burnt to see if they can handle more pain than others.

Some volunteers will be shown religious symbols such as crucifixes and images of the Virgin Mary during the torture.

Will they force them to listen to Rap music? Will they use the Pain Box from Dune? Just how will the test subject suffer for science? Let's see:
The team from the newly-formed Centre for Science of the Mind also want to include people with survival techniques in the torture experiments, which may help the special forces easily identify people with high pain thresholds.

Volunteers will have a gel containing chilli powder or heat-pad applied to the back of their hand to simulate pain.


A team of neurologists, pharmacologists and anatomists will then analyse how people react by using brain scans.

Another part of the research involves tests using anaesthetic, to see what effect it has on the brain and why some people need higher doses to make them unconscious.

Baroness Greenfield, director of the centre, said 20 years ago scientists had shied away from studying the brain in such away but that was now changing.

"We want to find out what the brain is doing, how it is working when we are having feelings and most importantly of all when we are conscious.

All I can say is they better pay well...

(via Metafilter)