10/30/07 06:33 - 58ºF - ID#41890
how can you become a demented zombie?
ok, so this is the stuff that they tell pregnant women about when dealing with cats and kitty litter. apparently this parasite likes to hang out in rat brains, but can only complete it's life cycle in a cat. so when the rat becomes infected with it, it's behavior changes and the rat loses it's natural fear of cats, and starts hanging out in front of cats where it most likely ends up being eaten; allowing the parasite to continue it's life cycle.
here is where it gets weird and kind of scary.
scientists wanted to know....
"Given that human and rat brains have a lot of similarities (they share the same basic anatomy and use the same neurotransmitters), a question naturally arose: if Toxoplasma can alter the behavior of a rat, could it alter a human?"
"Parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague administered psychological questionnaires to people infected with Toxoplasma and controls. Those infected, he found, show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious."
It's controversial work, disputed by many.....but.....
"E. Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Torrey and his colleagues had noticed some intriguing links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia. Infection with the parasite has been associated with damage to a certain class of neurons (astrocytes). So has schizophrenia. Pregnant women with high levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in their blood were more likely to give birth to children who would later develop schizophrenia."
"A year later, Torrey and his colleagues discovered one more fascinating link. They raised human cells in Petri dishes and infected them with Toxoplasma. Then they dosed the cells with a variety of drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Several of the drugs--most notably haloperidol--blocked the growth of the parasite."
btw, it is estimated that about 3 billion people around the world are infected with this parasite. i'm guessing the majority in developing countries.
i would like to have a little bit of this parasite, so that i could be a little more warm and fuzzy and talkative without the help of some kind of alcohol or drug.
you can find the entire article here.
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/21/07 11:04 - 64ºF - ID#41733
parenting lessons for britney
Location: Buffalo, NY
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