Kathleen McAuliffe's This is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (Mariner Books, 2017) unveils the world of parasites. From the influence of parasites on the ability to transform rats brains to be easily susceptible to cat predation to altering web formation structures in spiders, parasites hold the power to control an animals behavior. McAuliffe illustrates the ways in which parasites have had influence in human cognition and behavior, as well, with examples of impulsivity and reckless driving. Parasites may have compounded influence in the greater dimensions of culture, where strong scientific research suggests the interplay between parasites and prejudice, political affiliation, sexual attraction, gender bias, and morality. The forgotten emotion of disgust and the avoidance of disease may be at the heart of this interplay as our innate mechanisms drive the impulse for survival. This book illuminates the role of parasites and challenges our behavioral responses to critically think and question social norms. Most importantly, McAuliffe offers the vantage point from a parasite-centric view, a voice that has been previously unheard-until now.
Nivedita Kar is a student at the University of Southern California, having graduated from UCLA with a double major in Anthropology and Statistics and a masters degree for Northwestern University in biostatistics and epidemiology. She is immersed in the realm of academia and medicine, she hopes to be one of the rare few who aim to bridge the gap between clinical literacy and statistical methods.