Annals of Great Talks I Will Miss

Drat. Robert Sapolsky is going to give a public lecture next month about his cool work on parasites and mind-control. (For details, see this article I wrote for the New York Times.) But there’s no way I’ll be anywhere near the venue. Details are below–and below that, a video of a talk Sapolsky gave in November that I’m going to have to settle for…apologies for the absurdly obtuse angle of the camera.


Title: Do Parasites Know More Neurobiology Than We do?
Speaker:  Robert Sapolsky PhD
February 26, 2009, 3-4 PM
Neuroscience Center, Conference Rooms C & D
6001 Executive Boulevard  Bethesda, MD

For the third year, the National Institute of Mental Health is pleased to invite you to attend the fifth of a series of lectures dedicated to innovation, invention, and scientific discovery. Dr. Robert Sapolsky is currently the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor at Stanford University, holding joint appointments in several departments, including Biological Sciences, Neurology & Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery.

This lecture will cover a remarkable phenomenon — the parasite Toxoplasma gondii can only reproduce sexually in the gut of cats.   Once excreted from it, it then often infects rodents.  In order to complete its life cycle and return to the stomach of cats,  Toxoplasma has evolved the remarkable ability to convert the innate fear that rodents have of cat odors into an attraction to them.   In this talk, Dr. Sapolsky will review the small literature beginning to explain how this microscopic parasite can manipulate the neurobiology of fear and anxiety.

This event is open without prior registration to all NIH staff and the general public. Parking is available at a nominal fee. A government-issued photo-identification card (e.g., NIH ID or driver’s license) is required to gain entrance to the building. This event will not be web/video cast or video taped.