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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1999 Nov;23(7):1037-45.

Parasites and behavior: an ethopharmacological analysis and biomedical implications.

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Parasites and disease are increasingly recognized as agents of behavioral, ecological and evolutionary importance having a variety of influences on their hosts other than the more obvious pathological and immunological changes. Parasites can have significant behavioral effects even when parasitism is sub-clinical with these effects proposed to either benefit the parasite (parasite 'manipulation'), benefit the host, or to simply arise as side-effects of the infection (parasitic 'constraints'). However, until relatively recently little attention has been paid to the neuromodulatory substrates that mediate these behavioral changes. Ethopharmacology incorporates an evolutionary approach to the study of behavior with pharmacological analysis of neuromodulatory mechanisms. As such, this approach is appropriate for, and has been applied to, the analysis of the effects of ectoparasites (e.g. biting and blood-feeding flies) and endoparasites (e.g. protozoa, nematodes) on a number of behaviors (e.g. pain inhibition, learning and memory, responses to predators and anxiety, mate selection) in selected host-parasite systems. Ethopharmacology suggests a promising direction by which neuromodulatory mechanisms that underlie the effects of parasites on behavior, including that of humans, can be addressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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