A Parasite Found in Your Cat’s Poo Can Affect Your Decision Making

According to the findings the single-celled parasite- spread by cats- worms its way into the brain and causes personality changes associated with risk-taking

According to the findings the single-celled parasite- spread by cats- worms its way into the brain and causes personality changes associated with risk-taking

People can catch it from handling droppings from cats that are newly infected, but most people catch the parasite when eating poorly cooked meat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

That benefits the organism, which reproduces in the bodies of cats.

Part of the study found that professionals attending business events were nearly twice as likely to have started their own enterprise if they were T. gondii positive.

The researchers then tried to explain this connected worldwide and compared nationally available data from 42 countries with entrepreneurial attitudes and activities among the infected. About 22 percent of the people they tested had once been infected.

Toxoplasmosis Gondii infects billions of people (about a third of the world's population) and is often transmitted from pet cats - spread through contact with faeces.

"As humans, we like to think that we are in control of our actions", Pieter Johnson said.

The increase in risk taking can be traced to an extraordinary evolutionary mechanism.

Nations with a higher infection prevalence had a lower fraction of respondents that cite a "fear of failure" as a deterrent to a new business venture.

An global team of researchers has found a possible link between a parasitic infection and risky business behavior.

Going forward, Johnson is teaming with researchers from the veterinary school at Colorado State University and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine whether there are differences in behavior depending on the source of where people acquire the infection. T. gondii is known to make mice unafraid of cats. Only time, and more research, will tell.

After collecting saliva samples from the participants to test for the parasite, the researchers found that T. gondii-positive individuals were 1.4 times more likely to major in business and 1.7 times more likely to have an emphasis in "management and entrepreneurship" over other business-related emphases. This parasite changes the way a human acts, making it more likely to take risks and to overcome certain fears.

"There's this insane finding that if you get infected with this parasite, you could get neurotic and nobody wants to get more neurotic", lead researcher Stefanie Johnson told NBC News.

Johnson's team selected 1495 undergraduate students in biology and business classes and tested them for the presence of T. gondii antibodies. They were also more likely to pursue entrepreneurial and other business activities. This is the first time that an infection is associated with reduction of this rational fear.

The researchers note that starting a business is considered to be very risky behavior-most fail at it and suffer economically as a result. "Our next research is conservatism, whether toxoplasmosis affects conservatism", she said.

"Being a professor is literally the most risk-averse job you can do", she said.

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