News & Opinion | July 26, 2018 5:00 am

Parasite In Cat Poop Could Lessen Human Fear of Failure

Toxoplasma makes mice unafraid of cats and could give people courage, study says.

cat poop
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A mind-controlling parasite found in cat feces may give people courage to do nerve-wracking things like starting a new business, reports a new study. 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. 

The parasite makes rodents unafraid of cats, and may be reducing the fear of failure in humans, Stefanie Johnson of the University of Colorado and colleagues said.

The study hasn’t actually proven that. But toxoplasma does get into the brain, reports NBC News, and has been linked to a variety of mental effects in both mice and people.

Toxoplasmosis has been linked to a greater risk of “car accidents, mental illness, neuroticism, drug abuse and suicide,” Johnson and her colleagues wrote in their paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, according to NBC News. The researchers wrote that it might be affecting neurotransmitters in the brain or hormones like testosterone.