Couple weeks ago I'd volunteered for a Ph.D.'s experiment. He couldn't say much about it beforehand without biasing the results so all I knew when I headed in was that I was going to listen to some sounds with electrodes on my head. Ah psycholinguistics!
I get £20 for a couple hours of this, though! I was promised chocolate or drinks along the way but it turns out the cafe in that building closed early today, so I was very
sleepy by the end of it, and sad about the lack of coffee. As was the researcher, bless him, who'd been teaching at nine and still had to hang around for at least an hour after I left around five.
The electrodes are all in a little cap, like a swimming cap full of holes they get put in (there are two sizes of cap because it has to fit well, so I got my head measured! "fifty-eight centimeters," he said, then for some reason "I only do metric, not inches." I said I'd had no idea how many inches or centimeters around my head is so this was just fine with me). Most of the email I got explaining the details of this experiment were about the saline gel they put on your head and how this is harmless but messes up your hair. I needed tons of it too, as once again I got a "I've never seen it do that
before!" response from the guy when he plugged the electrodes in: the signal was so noisy he wasn't sure I'd be able to take part in the experiment at all. But first he and his assistant tried MOAR GEL everywhere, and that worked!
I didn't have to do anything in this experiment. Indeed, I wasn't supposed
to do anything: you have to sit very still because the electrodes pick up on everything
your brain does, including things like blinking. The sounds were in pairs, in a rhythmic pattern with pauses in between each pair, and I was instructed to blink in the pauses. Heh. I didn't think I managed it very well, and I was worried my nystagmus might fuck things up too because it goes bananas
in the kind of half-dim light I was in, but I didn't mention it and he didn't mention it. I suppose he's looking at different parts of the brain. In one of the longer breaks (I got 30-second breaks every minute and a half, and breaks as long as I wanted every ten minutes) the guy said the data was looking really clean, so it's nice to see their extra work with gel and electrode placement had paid off for them.
At the end he could tell me what he's studying: it's apparently known that our brain throws out certain kinds of "error messages" if we hear something off, like "I study pizza" instead of "I eat pizza" or "I'm going to studied tonight" instead of "I'm going to study tonight." This guy wants to know if the same kinds of things happen if the words aren't real words. So I listened to the same couple of nonsense words for aaaaaages, and at the end I did notice subtle differences in them, like one sound out of the six in the word sometimes had changed. He was even able to show me a graph on his computer of my brain noticing the deviations from the pattern, which is pretty badass.
When I got out of there, I found the job I'd applied for (by which I mean Andrew did most of the work of it because by the time we remembered about it it was the deadline and I was on a date) last week has invited me to an interview. Now I actually have to put in the research and stuff. And find out where the place is (it looks hella confusing on google maps but diffrentcolours
knows where it is so that's reassuring). And find some interview clothes.
It's for an immigration/refugee charity, working on campaigns particularly to end indefinite detention. It'll fit around uni because it's only a day a week and it's flexible. It might have to take over from my current PA-for-disabled-person job, but I'll figure that out if I need to. Having had a bunch of interviews in 2016 and 2017 and no luck with any of htem (that's why I ended up going to university!), I find myself assuming I won't get it. Not in a I-need-reassurance way: I don't need
this job and it's nice to be in a position where it'll be cool if I get it but I won't have to juggle so much if I don't, so it's a win either way.