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Parasites as “invisible designers” of the human brain

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Apparently, design is okay if microbes do it:

It seems so obvious that someone should have thought of it decades ago: Since parasites have plagued eukaryotic life for millions of years, their prevalence likely affected evolution. Psychologist Marco Del Giudice of the University of New Mexico is not the first researcher to suggest that the evolution of the human brain could have been influenced by parasites that manipulate host behavior. But tired of waiting for neurologists to pick up the ball and run with it, he has published a paper in the Quarterly Review of Biology that suggests four categories of adaptive host countermeasures against brain-manipulating parasites and the likely evolutionary responses of the parasites themselves. The idea has implications across a host of fields, and may explain human psychology, functional brain network structure, and the frustratingly variable effects of psychopharmaceuticals.

Christopher Packham, “Did parasite manipulation influence human neurological evolution?” at Phys.org

Paper: Marco Del Giudice. Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, The Quarterly Review of Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1086/705038 (open access) Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Eating fat, not meat, led to bigger human type brains, say researchers. Theories of the evolution of the human brain are a war of trivial explanations that no one dare admit are too trivial for what they purport to explain. It’s like blaming World War II on indigestion, only monstrously bigger.

Earlier discussion of the fat theory.

Starchy food may have aided human brain development

Do big brains matter to human intelligence?

Human evolution: The war of trivial explanations

and

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

2 Replies to “Parasites as “invisible designers” of the human brain

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    Um, which brain evolution are we talking about? As far as I know, humans appeared POOF! with operating brains already installed. And again, as far as I know, Modern Humans are still running the original Mark I, Mod 0 Brain, Human, from some hundreds of thousands of years ago. The same way we’re still running the Mark I, Mod 0 Hand and Mark I, Mod 0 Nose. They all work just fine, and they represent a gosh darn good original design. No parasites need apply.
    I am struck by the guy’s reverse logic though: since we haven’t found ANY evidence that parasites caused ANY changes to the Human Brain, let’s ASSUME parasites DID cause changes and then start guessing at what kinds of changes parasites would have enjoyed making. Boy, ya sure can’t beat Science like THAT!

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    Well, it IS astonishingly consonant with the kind of thought-process my Aunt Fanny favours: If you can’t beat the assumptions, make up inferences to match assumptions you would favour.

    I am not sure if it is a notch up or a notch down on the definition of insanity as repeating the same actions and expecting a different result.

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