Parasite culture

Toxoplasma_gondii_from_wp.jpgCould a wide-spread brain infection account for differences in cultures across the world? Possibly, is the surprising answer from a new research paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

If cognitive parasitology isn’t your thing (and it may not be, as I just made that up) the research is expertly discussed by Carl Zimmer.

The disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is called toxoplasmosis and has been linked to ‘personality’ changes in rats and mice.

Although controversial, some suggest that this infection may also be linked to personality changes in humans, suggesting that different rates of infections in different countries may lead to differences in ‘national character’.

You’re best going to Zimmer’s write-up for a concise take on the major implications, but I’ll leave you with an intriguing point he finishes on:

“[This] raises another interesting question: what about other parasites? Do viruses, intestinal worms, and other pathogens that can linger in the body for decades have their own influence on human personality?”

Link to Zimmer’s article ‘A Nation of Neurotics? Blame the Puppet Masters?’.

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