Nature.com  tells us that “Mice infected with toxoplasmosis lose their instinctive fear for the smell of cats — and the parasite’s effects may be permanent.”

Now what on Earth… You pretend to be running a blog about how people think and now you come up with wild stories about rats?!?

Well… the problem is that Toxoplasma Gondi, the parasite that is ‘behind’ all this has somehow found a way not only to influence the behavior of the rats it has infected but also to make sure that the alteration remains in place even after the infection was cured.

So what do we care if a bloody parasite manages to twist the simple minds of rodents? Permanently even?

“In humans, studies have linked Toxoplasma infection with behavioural changes and schizophrenia. One work found an increased risk of traffic accidents in people infected with the parasite2; another found changes in responses to cat odour3. People with schizophrenia are more likely than the general population to have been infected with Toxoplasma, and medications used to treat schizophrenia may work in part by inhibiting the pathogen’s replication.”

OK, OK, ‘correlation is not causation’, I know that, but don’t you find it ‘fascinating’ that behavioral patterns could be permanently altered from the outside the brain by something having a ‘material’ nature? Learning, acquiring new information, also involves something from outside the brain but ‘information’ doesn’t have a ‘material’ nature, right?

And something else. Don’t you find it rather interesting that so many people post pictures of cats on their FB walls?

http://www.nature.com/news/parasite-makes-mice-lose-fear-of-cats-permanently-1.13777