Why do some gay men make poor life choices?
The federal government wants to know, and is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to find out.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded $462,893 to the University of Southern California for the study, which will examine gay men in three categories: sexually risky, sexually risky methamphetamine users and non-risky.
“One central characteristic of such individuals (e.g., risky men who have sex with men (MSM)) is that they continue to engage in behaviors with very rewarding short-term consequences, but extremely negative long-term consequences, including medical, social and legal problems,” the grant’s abstract states. “Why do they have such difficulties making the right choices?”
The stated goal of the study is to understand how the different parts of the brain work together, accounting for contextual factors, to make decisions. The researchers will work to develop computational tools to this end.
“This knowledge will provide the foundation for novel intervention strategies to reduce various kinds of risky decision-making,” the abstract states. “A validated neurobiologically based, neural network model of the interaction of these systems could transform our ability to advance theory and effective interventions.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded the University of Southern California money for very similar research last year. The study, among other things, looked at sexual risk taking in gay men and analyzed how meth plays a role in contracting HIV.
Though the study of gay men has a high price tag, it promises big benefits.
“A deeper understanding of these neural systems and their interactions, will transform our ability to advance theory, design effective risk-reduction interventions and enhance societal health and well-being, while reducing economic costs,” the 2015 abstract says.
The government has used same-sex subjects for research in the past. Last year, the feds spent hundreds of thousands to study the sexual habits of obese girls.
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