Scan shows how brain suppresses latent racism

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The Independent Online

A brain scan that shows how some people have to try harder than others at suppressing their latent racism has been developed by scientists.

The study found that the effort of curbing racial bias was more exhausting for the brain when people already had a tendency to be racially prejudiced. Harbouring racial bias - however unintentional - made more intellectual demands on the brain when someone had to interact directly with a person from a different racial group, the research showed. This meant that brain scans could be used to predict how white people might interact with black people, said Jennifer Richeson, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The study, in the journal Nature Neuroscience, investigated the latent racial prejudice of 30 white people. Each volunteer conducted a test of mental performance with a black experimenter and was placed in a brain scanner and shown photographs of people from different racial groups.

Researchers were surprised to find that brain activity in response to the photos predicted how some people performed tasks after actual interaction with a black person, Professor Richeson said.