I do neuroscience research at Stanford on that cat-lady parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. AMA!
My short bio:
Since the internet loves cats & mind-control parasites & I am about to defend my thesis & am a stress-twine ball of mess, I figured there would be no better thing than to do an AMA.
Toxo is a single-cell parasite, can only reproduce in cats, and can infect any mammal, after which it usually goes to the host brain & sits there. The fun part is thinking about whether when it gets into mice & rats it can make them - somehow - more likely to get eaten by the cat and therefore close the lifecycle loop. So, my job is to infect mice with Toxo, test whether they are afraid of cats anymore, and then look in the brains of infected mice and tell the world what, if anything, I find.
Toxo is also in anywhere from a quarter to a third of humans and has been linked to schizophrenia in about 60 studies now. So, crazy cat ladies? Eh? Here is my favorite youtube video of CCLs I show people in talks.
Link to actual research paper, showing that Toxo makes rats sexually attracted to the smell of cats, maybe. Kinda. Sorta. See for yourself. Or ask me as per AMA rules & regulations.
And I figured that circa Valentine's Day a treatise on how sexual attraction can be controlled by an agnostic, selfish parasite makes for good bed talk.
Talk I gave: Leashed to Your Pussy: Toxo & Mind Control
Pop-sci things I have written:
edit; all done. thanks everyone.