Parasite In Cat Poop Could Lessen Human Fear of Failure

Parasite In Cat Poop Could Lessen Human Fear of Failure

A protozoan parasite found in cats could be having a rather odd effect on the brains of humans it infects, which under the right circumstances just might turn them into the next Elon Musk.

Landmark "no fault" divorce ruling as "unhappy" woman must stay married to husband of 40 yearsWell I never! Researchers found that people who had been infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, found in cat poop, are more likely to major in business and to have started their own business than non-infected people, reports NBC News.

Research led by the University of Colorado has combed databases of information examining the coincidence of T. gondii infections and entrepreneurial activity across the globe.

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. This indeed works well for the T. gondii parasite which reproduces inside the cat once.

Johnson's team selected 1495 undergraduate students in biology and business classes and tested them for the presence of T. gondii antibodies. Among those majoring in business studies, the T. gondii positive students were 1.7 times more likely to be on the tracks of entrepreneurship and management.

As a next part of the study the team collected saliva samples from 197 people attending entrepreneurship events.

"The most common place it likes to go is in your brain", said Johnson, an associate professor of management at the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

"I was surprised at the number of people who had been infected", Pieter said.

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They gave a saliva test for antibodies to toxoplasma to almost 1,500 students and to almost 200 people attending seminars on how to start your own business.

There are other parasites that can affect human behavior such as Prevotella and Bacteroides, or even Chlorovirus ATCV-1.

The researchers later attempted to test for connections between T. gondii and entrepreneurship on a global level. And people who died "in a risky way" were more likely to have had the toxoplasma infection, she said. In the statistics they compiled, too, infection signaled a higher likelihood of entrepreneurship.

Published in scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study shows a causal link between a willingness to open up a new business and being infected with the parasite - but that doesn't mean you should open a deli if you test positive.

"So what if all the businesses started by toxoplasma-positive people fail?"

Unfortunately, the parasite can also cause other types of behavioral changes that may not seem as attractive as being a fearless business shark. "There's got to be many, many more", she said.

"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.