The Other Side of Research

During our Introduction to Minority Languages class, we were required to partake in a research experiment at the university, to gain an insight into what it is like to be a subject and how scholarly investigations evolve. Under the haze of novel experience, I signed myself up to a study calling for ‘healthy’ people and promising a sweet cash pay-off in return. My expectations were a little off the mark…

Rising before nine in the morning and on a day off, is never a smooth combination. If it weren’t for the promise of a super food offering in correlation to cognition testing, I would have been still joyously in slumber. I opted to take part in an experiment at the university, titled, Influence of Super Foods on Cognition. As the name suggests the study seeks the effects of certain super foods on the brain in relation to a person’s cognition.

Teary eyed from the cold bike ride, I found myself in a kitchen at one of the science faculties staring at three tablets and a plastic cup of some bizarre solution. This was not exactly what I was expecting. In my haste, I had envisaged an array of fruit, sprinklings of goji berries and more kale than a vegan Christmas, instead I had chunky pills and liquid: unknown. Putting these fantasies behind me, I threw back the ‘super food’, like an indoctrinated raver and set about not eating anything for a further two hours, as prescribed by the researchers. Once my fasting was over, I waltzed down to a testing room to have my wits examined in what I hoped would be a series of amusing experiments not too different from rudimentary sobriety examinations given by police officers in small towns.

Over the course of an hour I partook in two nap inducing activities, involving me, a computer and a lot of flashing lines or letters. The aim of the game was to correctly identify an element amidst rapidly flashing patterns as quickly as possible as to test my level of cognition. I was straddled in front of this screen, furiously clicking at flashing lines, where I realised the gravity of having committed myself to three more repetitive weekly sessions.


By: Sarah Tiplady