Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Can a pill cure racism? Not quite, but...

File this one under crazy but true: A common beta blocker used for heart patients to treat chest pains and help lower heart rates can also lower prejudice against others, according to a new Oxford University study. While the study was small-scale and the results are open to interpretation, they make some sense given what the pills do to patients' brains. 

A Southern California Public Radio story explains:

Thirty-six people took part in the study. Half received the beta-blocker and half a placebo.

Two hours later, each took a psychological exam. Participants categorized positive and negative words, along with pictures of white and black people.

A third of those who took the beta blocker scored lower on the test, suggesting they were less racially prejudiced at a subconscious level.

No one who took a placebo got that result.

And while all this may sound crazy, scientists say there is a rational explanation: racism, they maintain, is founded on fear, and beta blockers act on the part of the brain that governs fear and emotional responses.

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