brain jackingJoe Segen2016-12-25T21:36:49+00:00
MICROBIOLOGY, PUBLIC HEALTH
A term which is analogous to hijacking–the taking of a vehicle in the possession of another by force–for the commandeering of the brain of one species of organism by another.
The prototypic brain jacking is effected by acanthocephala, the spiny- or thorny-headed worm which infects Gammarus lacustris, a small crustacean that feeds near ponds and rivers. Normally, G lacustris feeds away from light and the surface, and away from ducks, its normal predator. Infection by the thorny-headed worm floods the G lacustris brain with serotonin, reducing its photophobic behaviour. The brain-jacked crustacean surfaces and once within the ducks’ line of sight, the latter–the thorny-headed worm’s definitive host–eats the former, in a Trojan horse twist to the life cycle.