This Is Your Brain on Parasites | Kathleen McAuliffe

Summary of: This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society
By: Kathleen McAuliffe

Introduction

Embark on a fascinating and revealing journey into the world of parasites and their impact on human behavior and society in Kathleen McAuliffe’s book, ‘This Is Your Brain on Parasites.’ Learn about the intricate battles between humans and parasites that have shaped our evolution, both physically and behaviorally. Discover how these tiny creatures exploit their host’s body, manipulate their behavior to ensure survival, and even exert influence over our emotions. After diving into this summary, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the hidden world of parasites and their crucial, yet often overlooked, role in our lives.

The Hidden War

Humans have been in constant conflict since time immemorial, from opposing tribes to warring countries to contradictory religions. However, one deadly conflict that has gone unnoticed for thousands of years is the hidden war taking place on a microscopic level. This war is between humans and parasites- viruses, worms, microbes, and bacteria- and has influenced the evolution of both human physique and behavior. Parasites possess a remarkable capacity for survival, given their abundance, ability to reproduce quickly, and adaptability. While the majority of parasites may die, a few survivors can mutate, infiltrate our system, and take advantage of the habitat our body offers, as the bubonic plague, smallpox, and the Spanish flu showed. This article explores the hidden war, highlighting parasites’ intelligence that has helped them outsmart human defenses.

Parasites: Manipulators of Behaviors

Parasites have the ability to manipulate the behavior of their hosts, including humans. They reproduce and complete their life cycle by changing the behavior of animals, like the brine shrimp and flamingos. They also alter human behavior and cause diseases like the Guinea worm. Luckily, the Guinea worm disease has been eradicated in modern times.

Parasitic Mind Control

Zombies are not just a Hollywood fantasy. Some living creatures can become zombies by parasitic mind control, such as the jewel wasp that gains control of its victim’s brain by injecting poison into a roach’s brain. Once controlled, the roach can only move when instructed by the wasp. The wasp then leads the roach to a burrow, lays eggs upon it, and feeds on it for six days. Even humans can be affected by parasites like the roundworm Toxocara, which can enter the human body and impair cognitive functions. However, not all parasites are harmful as some of them are a natural part of our organism.

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