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Are Our Brains Controlled by Parasites That Love Cats?

Bringing an all new meaning to "crazy cat person."
December 12, 2011, 12:00am

The sheer ubiquity of microscopic organisms is staggering. Microbiologist Tom Curtis recently compared the size of the microbial population to the size of the universe: The number of microbes in the world is billions of times larger than the number of stars in the sky. Think about that for a second.

And welcome back. Teeming within your body alone are trillions of microorganisms—bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists—that make up 90 percent of all the cells in your body. You are more them, than you are you. In fact, there’s not really a you. Your body is more of an ecosystem than a discrete organism. The sum effect of this fact is unnerving: In a way, you are not one thing, but a codependent mass of countless organisms, moving in unison toward shared goals. Through hundreds of thousands of years of co-evolution within this host-microbe habitat, these organisms have developed a complex scheme of cat-and-mouse survival strategies that affect the overall system.

So then: Whenever you do something, whenever you make one of the myriad, inane daily choices that ultimately define who you are, who is it making the decision? You? Or is it them?

The idea that microscopic flora living inside our bodies can directly manipulate our behavior and personality is perhaps surprising. It’s also exactly what a growing number of scientists is suggesting. And it’s absolutely terrifying.

Read the rest at Motherboard.