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A Brain Parasite Might Be Making Us Angrier - Newsy

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Transcript: More and more studies are hinting that our brains might not be completely our own. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii, Toxo for short, may be changing human behavior — perhaps even making us angrier and more aggressive. Toxo is one of those frightening parasites capable of controlling its hosts. It reproduces in the stomachs of cats, and it's always trying to get back inside one. So when an animal, usually a mouse or rat, becomes infected through contact with cat poop, the parasite gets into the rodent's brain and literally rewires it. Basically, it makes its host fall in love with cats so it'll go find one and get eaten. Humans can contract the parasite, too, through eating unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat. And, obviously, through cat poop. But while it can pose problems for pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems, it's generally not considered a threat to human health. That's lucky because Toxo is incredibly common. Around a third of people in the world and more than 1 in 5 in the U.S. are infected, and the vast majority never suffer any ill effects. At least, that's what we thought. Over the past decade, studies have linked Toxo to higher rates of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, suicide attempts, risk taking, impulsiveness and now, aggression. A recent study found people with the parasite score higher on anger and aggression tests, and people with anger disorders are twice as likely to have the parasite than you'd expect from chance alone. What does all of this mean? Well, it's too early to say. None of the studies so far are considered proof that Toxo is driving changes in human behavior. Its effects might be overhyped due to its creepiness. But because it's so common, if infection really does raise the risk of mental illness even slightly, that could translate to tens of millions of cases. Sources: Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/radiologist-watching-monitors-of-brain-scan-med_hospital_radiologist_002/ EurekAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/111460.php Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/large-crowd-at-grand-central-station-4/ Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toxoplasma_gondii.jpg Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/germany-cat-sitting-in-grass/ Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toxoplasma_gondii_tissue_cyst_in_mouse_brain.jpg EurekAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/61855.php?from=249032 Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/fruits-and-vegetables-at-street-market-in-romania/ Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/cat-eating-a-mouse-in-the-grass/ Videoblocks https://www.videoblocks.com/video/moving-crowd-silhouettes/ CBS http://www.cbsnews.com/news/vancouver-embarrassed-over-post-game-rioting/ The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry http://dx.doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09621 Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toxoplasmosis_-_cropped_-_very_high_mag.jpg Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U_fibres_big.JPG ------------------------------------- Newsy is your source for concise, unbiased video news and analysis covering the top stories from around the world. With persistent curiosity and no agenda, we strive to fuel meaningful conversations by highlighting multiple sides of every story. Newsy delivers the news and perspective you need without the hype and bias common to many news sources. See more at http://www.newsy.com/ Like Newsy on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/newsyvideos/
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Text Comments (34)
Spazer Dazer (1 month ago)
Clearly we should just get doctors to play Higurashi
garyha (4 months ago)
The most accurate video on Toxoplasma that I've seen.
MsNooneinparticular (4 months ago)
Would be nice if psychiatry took things like this into consideration instead of JUST focusing on neurotransmitters & emotions. Head trauma, infections, inflammation & many other biological processes can contribute to mental illness but are largely ignored.
garyha (4 months ago)
It's right in front of their noses. Toxo eats GABA, the brain's inhibitory neurotransmitter. My phone even knows gaba, auto-corrects to all caps. It's like, psychiatry 101. The fact they ignore T. Gondii is spooky. Unless they have it too.
fushapanther (6 months ago)
How f!!! do you kill it
Chris Courtney (10 months ago)
this may explain crazy cat lady's.
Kelly J (3 months ago)
Chris Courtney It's not only in cats tho. The turn crazy cat lady came about because they have so many cats.
Trumble Research (11 months ago)
Garlic is a good expeller of parasites and the like. Apparently the liberals have toxo in their tofu
Primal 420 (11 months ago)
Its not only involved with cats, its everywhere for example chickens will eat the same things as mice.
Brian Vormann (1 year ago)
That dude has Freaky ears
Dawn E (1 year ago)
A cat is only infectious for 2 weeks. Other sources are much more likely.
Kurt Rencel Osana (1 year ago)
I kill cats, no matter if I'm serious or not. You cat lovers enjoy raging at me.
Kelly J (3 months ago)
You have problems. Get help.
MsNooneinparticular (4 months ago)
I hope you're trolling. Killing innocent animals is a crime & you're a psychopath if you do it.
Uzair A (2 years ago)
Is this how we become slaves to cats?
El Salvador (2 years ago)
I believe everything I hear ...
Meek Peace (2 years ago)
What the hell are these sickos doing with cats to contract this!
garyha (4 months ago)
"Colleagues at John's Hopkins University have estimated that every square foot of soil in the United States contains from 1 to 400 oocysts" We're doomed.
MsNooneinparticular (4 months ago)
Oh, I dunno. "Sick" stuff like changing litter boxes or simply living with cats indoors who walk across surfaces after stepping in their litter box... People don't realize how easy it is to ingest feces. Human feces is on nearly every surface in public places. It's how norovirus & other stomach bugs are spread. Those 'wash your hands' signs aren't just a fun suggestion. If you live with cats, you're bound to come in contact with their feces & urine at some point....even if it's only microscopic amounts. Same with most other animals.
coming in contact with their shit that's what they're doing
You Don't Say? (2 years ago)
i eat cat shit i think i might have this
baashdi hobstocking (4 months ago)
straight from the tap or the box? if from the box, at the very least use chop sticks, we must remain civil.
MsNooneinparticular (4 months ago)
1/3rd of the human population has it, so you're not alone.
Joelleen Beangh (6 months ago)
it is serious you will get atzhimer and poo in you pants when old. no fun
Joelleen Beangh (8 months ago)
me too
chow mein (2 years ago)
I've been telling people about this
garyha (4 months ago)
Me too. I studied it casually for about a year, via google alert.
fiscalmist67 (2 years ago)
that explains it

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