Tuesday, 12 April 2011


The current experiment I am conducting involves looking at susceptibility to false memories after viewing a stressful or neutral film. One of the variables I'm interested in looking at is the hormone cortisol, which gets released into the body when a person is stressed. The short version of one of my hypotheses is that since excessive cortisol levels can impair memories, if people are more stressed and release more cortisol they might have worse memories for some aspects of the film. This may make them more likely to accept false information about the film into their memories, which I'm going to implant - muah ha ha haaaaa.

spit collection supplies from here
What this means though, is I need to collect saliva samples to run analyses to look for differences in cortisol levels. This IS as gross as it sounds. Participants spit down straws into tubes, and I store them in the fridge until I can freeze them for later analysis. You'll be happy to know I wear gloves. The most disgusting part is definitely the spit noises! Oh and floaties.

What I am excited about though - is spit camp. This is a whole day where you get to learn the saliva analysis techniques and even get to test your own sample. It was initially suggested by one of my associate supervisors that I go to one in Europe while I was there on my honeymoon. The sad thing is I actually considered it - luckily my primary supervisor told me not to! So instead I have worked on one being organised here in Sydney, and it is next week! It will be a very long day - 9am to 5pm at Macquarie Uni, but I really am looking forward to it. :)

I told you I'm a giant nerd!


  1. Haha!! Nerd or not. The body is amazing. You should of seen how intrigued I was when I was told about the process of Potassium and Sodium Chloride on our cells. In all honesty, I shocked myself.
    Usually when words like that surface, my mind goes into Homer Simpson mode (clapping cymbal monkey).

    THAT being said: EWWWWWWWWW!! I almost threw up when the car in front of me spat out his window EVERY 2 MINUTES on the M5 one time in traffic.

    I applaud you and your stomach!


  2. Hi! I got here through the 20SB grad school group and just have to say I totally relate to the spit. As an undergrad I took saliva samples to test hydration levels. Bottled the spit, labeled it, and stuck it in the freezer. Eh.

    Spit camp though? I think I'd pass on that. ;]

  3. Aw, man, this was not a good post to read after eating lunch.

    Glad you're excited, though :)

    Concerning the cortisol experiment, I would think that the more traumatic the experience, the more a person would remember it. However, it often seems that the brain attempts to protect itself (via cortisol, dissociation, etc.) when sensations are too intense for it to process.


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