What are you afraid of? All of us have a certain phobia, and fear of something. Some of us are afraid of spiders. Others are afraid of dogs. There are people afraid of going out in the dark. Some are afraid to start their own business.
According to a new cat study, the bravery you need is hidden in a cat’s litter box. The study found out that a parasite found in cat feces can alter your mind to make it less fearful, and more brave.
The parasite is called Toxoplasma gondii, and infects an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. What is even more interesting and ironic is that the parasite can shift the behavior of rodents, making them less unafraid of cats.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado. Scientists theorized that the bug can affect humans in a similar way it affects rodents, making them more open to risks.
Cat Study and its Findings
There is always need for more research. One cat study cannot prove anything, no matter how clear the results are. And in this case, while there were correlations, more evidence is needed. However, the evidence is the following:
– People at entrepreneurial events who carried the parasite were twice as likely as other attendees to start their own business
– College students who picked up the bug were 1.4 times more likely to major in business
The study was led by associate professor at the University of Colorado Stefanie Johnson. Findings of the study were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The other side of the parasite is that the T. gondii has been tied to increased risk of mental illness, drug abuse, suicide, neuroticism, and car accidents. So, it is a double edged sword. There have been other studies of the parasite, and they suggest the parasite alters brain chemistry and behavior, particularly around dopamine, which is the chemical we all know is linked to pleasure.
While you might think the parasite is found only in cat feces, more than 60 million people in the United States may carry the parasite. That is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People carry the parasite after contact with raw meat or cat feces. The fun part is that the parasite is often unnoticeable, and there are rarely symptoms. Our human immune system usually ward off symptoms of this parasite.
The parasite is also found in rodents. When they carry the parasite, the lack of fear around cats makes them more likely to be eaten. They do not fear the cat, they do not run, and because of that, they may end up eaten. The parasite then reproduces inside the cat.
The study at the University of Colorado included 1,500 students and 200 attendees of entrepreneurial events to find how they reacted to the parasite. The findings showed that humans become more brave, particularly in business decisions when they are infected with the parasite. Does this mean you should touch cat feces and hope to be more successful? Of course not, but it is another interesting study linked with our feline friends.