Heart pill 'stops people being racist'
A common heart disease drug may have the unusual side-effect of combating racism, a new study claims.
Volunteers given the beta-blocker Propranolol, used to lower heart rates, scored lower on a standard psychological test of "implicit" racist attitudes.
They appeared to be less racially prejudiced at a subconscious level than another group treated with a "dummy" placebo pill.
Scientists believe the discovery can be explained by the fact that racism is fundamentally founded on fear, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Propranolol acts both on nerve circuits that govern heart rate, and the part of the brain involved in fear and emotional responses. The drug is also used to treat anxiety and panic.
Experimental psychologist Dr Sylvia Terbeck, from Oxford University, who led the study, said: "Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias.
"Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality."
Two groups of 18 participants took part in the study which involved categorising positive and negative words, and pictures of black and white individuals, on a computer screen.