60 Minutes and The Amazing Race

I'm going to mention a few spoilers about TAR below so don't read that section if it's going to ruin your day, okay?

The middle segment on 60 Minutes last night was about chemicals in the brain and how they affect memory. I thought it was very interesting but not terribly surprising though some of the implications were dicey.

The segment was titled A Pill to Forget and it described research into Propranolol, a drug currently used to treat high blood pressure, and its affect on memory. It apparently acts by blocking epinephrine (adrenaline) binding sites in the brain.

It's long been known that epinephrine acts to enhance memory. Who hasn't been in a scary situation which remains in the memory far longer than any normal memory? The adrenal cortex releases epinephrine when we're mad or scared (often referred to as the fight or fright reaction) and the resulting memories are often our most vivid. That fight in 3rd grade, or when we heard about 9/11, or the car accident we just avoided--or didn't avoid.

What the Propranolol suppoedly does by blocking epinephrine binding is decouple vivid memories in people that suffer from them. Namely sufferers of post traumatic stress disorders PTSD). These people keep reliving stressful memories over and over again. Combat, rape, car accident--you name it.

I know a lot of people don't believe PTSD exists. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps because there's so much variation in how our memory works. For example, I doubt I'd ever suffer from PTSD because nothing imprints itself onto my memory very hard. Even traumatic events fade like everyday memories. However I know a lot of people that never forget anything that happens at a stressful time--and I suspect people like that are quite vulnerable to PTSD. It's a theory, anyway.

The downside to this, at least according to an ethicist that 60 Minutes interviewed, is that people could potentially use Propranolol to adjust their memories at whim. To downplay anything that they don't find pleasant to think about.

The Amazing Race

Can you believe those damn Beauty Queens are still in it? And what's with this bullshit about having to finish first in the next leg? It's only a half hour penalty. There's plenty of legs when the contestants arrive at the Pitstop over several hours time. In a leg like that, you could finish 2nd or 3rd and still stay in the race despite the time penalty at the end.

Now that the Cho brothers are out of the race I don't really care that much who wins. Team Alabama often pisses me off but it's not really the team, but just the one that's nasty--I think that's Karlyn. She's as bad as the Barbies with her sniping and double-dealing. I must admit that both teams of women do pull together incredibly well, which is something that Rob & Kimberly really need to learn how to do.

Does anyone else wonder how much of this is the show's editing? I can't see the Cho brothers going to bat for the Alabama Moms like they did if there was that level of back biting there. It often seems like the show purposely provokes nasty remarks from Karlyn just to increase tension levels.

In any case, it seems to me that the race is going to the male models Tyler and James this time. Only the Beauty Queens Dustin and Kandice stand in their way.


Deana said…
I didn't get to start Amazing Race on time this year so I haven't watched but I really miss it!

I loved it when Rob and Amber competed.
srp said…
I haven't watched TAR ever, nor Survivor, nor .... wait... is there another one with a similar premise?

I will now have to check out your nature photo blog that you had hidden so well... ;)
srp said…
PS: I did watch the last 20 minutes of the Bachelor. Big waste of time... for a minute I thought he had a brain and then... he picked the airhead. Tell me. Why do they always pick the airhead?
Claire said…
That 60 Minutes story sounds interesting and quite scary! I'll be checking out what my parents are taking now!!
Carmi said…
These reality shows are ALL about editing. I remember my days in radio - I could make people say things they didn't mean by simply rearranging words and playing with the sound board a bit.

Scary stuff!

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