Did you know that microscopic organisms living and multiplying within you can have a powerful impact on your behaviour. You are likely unaware of them but according to research, they can alter your personality.
In a 1996 study, a total of 224 men and 170 women were tested for toxoplasmosis infection and their personality profiles were measured. Highly significant differences between toxoplasma-infected and uninfected subjects were observed.
An estimated 22% of adults are hosts for this parasite. Based on studies, individuals who are infected are significantly more outgoing and carefree than individuals who are infection-free.
But there is a downside. Individuals with latent toxoplasmosis have a significantly higher involvement in traffic accidents due to what is described as their decreased ability to concentrate.
Recent studies also show significant differences in behaviour between infected and uninfected rodents. A possible mechanism of behaviour modification by parasites in rodents has also been discovered. Rodents infected with toxoplasma gondii show an attraction to cat odours and an increased tendency to roam around. This greatly increases their chances of falling prey to cats. The parasite causes mice to behave in a way that makes them easy prey.
Similar observations have been made in fish infected with S. Solidu. The neuro-hormonal profile of infected fish is similar to what is seen in chronically stressed fish and they display behaviour that makes them 10–30 times more likely to be eaten by birds.
Parasites are able to affect personality because they use the same neuromodulators in most animals and humans. They can change the concentration of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and other neuro-biological chemicals in the brain.
They are able to migrate into their hosts’ muscles, eyes and central nervous system, where they can remain hidden for decades without appearing to do much of anything. Yet they can also manipulate their host’s behaviour in dramatic ways. Think of the rabies virus which makes dogs and humans behave aggressively.
Furthermore, certain types of mental illness are associated with higher than average rates of infection with toxoplasma gondii. Interestingly, some studies have found that cases of schizophrenia rose sharply around the turn of the twentieth century, when domestic cat ownership became common. Cats are a known carrier for this parasite.
Some parasitic infections are considered medically untreatable while others can be challenging to eliminate. The first line of defense is to avoid exposure to parasites. Exposure to undercooked contaminated meat has been identified as one of the main sources of contamination for certain infections. Eating well-cooked meats reduces the risk. Washing your hands regularly especially after contact with animals will also help.
Submitted by www.Weight-Loss-Montreal.ca
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