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Brain bugs

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  • eduard
    There is a good article in Scientific American. It is about bugs that manipulate their hosts so as to get some benefit. Most of these bugs affect their hosts
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2003
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      There is a good article in Scientific American. It is about bugs that manipulate their hosts so as to get some benefit. Most of these bugs affect their hosts externally, but some do it in the brain. For example, rabies virus causes the host to become super aggressive so that it will attack some other animal and thus spread itself through saliva in the wounds that are created.

      But the really neat one is a protozoan [toxoplasma gondii] which infects rodents [rats] which are normally preyed upon by cats. The cat eats the rodent and distributes the disease through its feces which are eaten in turn by other rodents. The neat bit is that the protozoan manipulates the rodent's brain so that it cant recognize the odour of cats which should make it skittish and to run away. Instead, the rodent does not avoid cats and thus is more apt to be eaten. The thing is that the rodent's ability to recognize odours in general is not affected. It still is a functioning member of rat society. It just applies to cat odour.

      Which makes me think that memes are a sort of virus which affect an manipulate individuals of a society. Bill ... are you listening??

      eduard


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