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The sacculina barnacle would seem to lie at an intersection of your interests:
Posted by Alden on February 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM · Report this
treacle 2
In my own readings on T.gondii, I found discussion that the flu virus allegedly makes us more social and likely to go out -- during our most contagious period before flu symptoms have manifested. Here's the article in the Atlantic.
Posted by treacle on February 12, 2013 at 8:55 AM · Report this
Thanks for the follow up.

When I first learned about toxoplasmosis, it caused me to question a lot of my preconceived notions regarding why I like the things that I like and dislike others. What sort of microscopic biological/organic/chemical reactions were happening that made my brain decide at some base level that I like or dislike something?

It's difficult to not slip into nihilistic lines of thought when one considers that ALL of our preferences and aversions may come down to either active infections, or vestigial bits of DNA from exposure to microbes that was left permanently in our ancestors' DNA and passed down to us.

We seem but mere puppets under the control of otherwise brainless, single-celled organisms.
Posted by Bored@School on February 12, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 4
I like the Cowbird. Because it needs to follow herds to feed, it lays eggs in other birds nests. It doesn't infect a host to change it's behavior but uses other birds instincts and behaviors. And it's chicks are bigger than the others in the nest, so it can push the other nestlings out. Then the birds feed the Cowbird chick as if it's their own.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 12, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this
We aren't robots or zombies for parasites or single-celled organisms, but to their genes. This no more makes us puppets than being robots for "our" genes.
Posted by Dakn on February 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
From what I read toxoplasmosis makes mice more likely to take risky chances. And the result of taking these chances is a greater likelihood of getting eaten and infecting a cat. And previous studies show that people who are infected take greater chances as well, and are more likely to have car accidents.
Posted by Dr.Duck on February 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM · Report this

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