Sunday, March 11, 2012
Heart disease drug 'combats racism'
Volunteers given the beta-blocker, used to treat chest pains and lower heart rates, scored lower on a standard psychological test of "implicit" racist attitudes. They appeared to be less racially prejudiced at a subconscious level than another group treated with a "dummy" placebo pill. Scientists believe the discovery can be explained by the fact that racism is fundamentally founded on fear. Propranolol acts both on nerve circuits that govern automatic functions such as heart rate, and the part of the brain involved in fear and emotional responses. The drug is also used to treat anxiety and panic. Experimental psychologist Dr Sylvia Terbeck, from Oxford University, who led the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, said: "Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias