Toxoplasma Gondii Tropism Toward Rats Brain Regions Free Writing Sample

The change in the host behavior, which parasites are allegedly responsible for according to the tenets of the behavioral manipulation theory (Lim et al. 2012), can be seen when observing rats. According to the principal concepts of the theoretical framework, parasites, in general, and Toxoplasma gondii, in particular, are capable of influencing the phenotype by altering it and gradually producing a new one that exists outside of the parasite’s soma. To be more accurate, the change in the behavior implies that the host (i.e., rats in the case in point) change their traditional behavioral patterns, for instance, the ones involving the recognition of a threat (e.g., a predator, such as a cat) and the further response to the threat.

Several studies point to the possibility of the phenomenon under analysis being triggered by the location of the parasites (Swierzy et al. 2014). Particularly, the effects on certain brain areas may be the reason for Toxoplasma gondii to alter the behavioral patterns of the host to the point where the latter disregards its intrinsic habits dictated by its instincts, such as the instinct of survival. As a result, rats are incapable of recognizing the immediate threat to their life. In the theory under analysis, the brain endothelial cells are typically viewed as the conductors of the toxoplasma into the corresponding areas of the brain. As soon as the parasite enters the corresponding area of the brain, it ejects tissue with bradyzoite cysts that can be characterized by their propensity to recrudesce numerous times.

Indeed, there is sufficient evidence of the link between the locations of Toxoplasma gondii in particular brain areas and the further effects that the subject matter has on the rats’ processing of fear. The reasons behind the assumptions mentioned above are quite simple; as a study by McConkey (2013) explains, the amygdala is responsible for the analysis of the sensory inputs received from contact with the environment and its elements. Experiments on rats show that there is a direct correlation between the operation of the amygdala and the production of fear-related responses such as fight-or-flight and freezing behavior patterns. Upon a contraction of Toxoplasma gondii, the latter develops tropism toward the amygdala, which can be proven by testing the density of the area. As soon as cysts develop under the influence of Toxoplasma gondii, the olfactory abilities of the host are reduced significantly, and the behavioral patterns of the host change gradually (McConkey et al. 2013).

Researches show that there is a tendency for Toxoplasma gondii to choose specific areas of the brain as its further location. As a result, one can obtain a better insight into the host behavior. At present, there is strong evidence that tropism of Toxoplasma gondii extends to the following regions of the brain: “nucleus accumbens, ventromedial hypothalamus, or amygdala” (Vyas 2015, p. e1004935).

However, some of the studies indicate that the cyst tissue in rats has the propensity of spreading to all regions of the brain. For instance, recent research indicated that Toxoplasma gondii was found in all essential regions after careful analysis and the subsequent assessment of the disease progress: “Tissue cysts were found in all regions of the brain in chronically infected rats” (Dubey et al. 2016). Furthermore, the study indicates high variability rates as far as the location of the cyst tissue was concerned, therefore, making it evident that Toxoplasma gondii may affect all areas to an equally deplorable extent. One must admit that the research mentioned Colliculus as the most infected part of the brain. Seeing that the amygdala connects to the thalamus, creating the amygdaloidal pathway, it will be reasonable to assume that there is a connection between the location of Toxoplasma gondii and the further progress of the disease, particularly, the progressing control of the fear-related functions in rats.

Other studies also indicate a rapid change in the core of the nucleus accumbens as the primary tool for Toxoplasma gondii to alter the behavioral patterns of the host (rats in the case in point). For instance, Tan et al. (2015) state explicitly that there is a direct correlation between the effects that Toxoplasma gondii have on rats’ amygdala and the subsequent changes in their behavior. Tan et al. (2015) also attribute the identified effect to the reduction in the rats’ ability to identify the smell of the predator. However, the authors of the study go a bit further by mentioning that the host behavior is altered by postponing the aversion effect and, therefore, slackening the pace of the reaction. In other words, the research points to the fact that it is not the absence of fear but the delay in the reaction that can be defined as the primary effect of the Toxoplasma gondii’s influence.

However, the fact that the delay is caused by the bacteria remains doubtless. The dendritic retraction of neurons, which rats experience as the Toxoplasma gondii impacts their brain functions, primarily, the sensory system, reducing the rates of corticosterone (Mitra, Sapolsky, & Vyas 2013). The latter, in its turn, performs the functions related to energy production and regulation, as well as the provision of the responses necessary to regulate the stress levels in the rat. As a result, rats become resilient to fear, the latter being inhibited as the hormone that reacts with the basolateral amygdala is not produced in the required amount, and its levels become insufficient for recognizing the danger to the rat’s life to provide the necessary response and evade the threat.

A closer look at the subject matter will show that Toxoplasma gondii affects not only the fear-related instincts in rats but also their cognitive functions, therefore, reducing their ability to remember certain behavioral patterns and use the acquired knowledge to their advantage. Consequently, rats become incapacitated to perform the essential cognitive functions that allow them to analyze the environment efficiently and detect the elements that pose an immediate threat to their wellbeing (Daniel, Sestito, & Rouse 2015).

As stressed above, the distribution of cysts across the brain can be defined as stochastic and comparatively even. Thus, the effects that Toxoplasma gondii has on the rats’ functions, including both sensory and mental ones, are immediate and irreversible. More importantly, the changes in the rats’ behavior are aggravated by the anxiety issues that the animals develop as a result of the Toxoplasma gondii’s effects (Evans et al. 2014). Although several types of a research register the progress of Toxoplasma gondii in the forebrain areas of rats (Parlog, Schlüter & Dunay 2015), the evidence concerning the bacteria’s impact on the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens can be considered confirmed. Further studies, therefore, will have to focus on detecting the factors that affect the behavior of Toxoplasma gondii in the host body and its choice of target locations.


Daniel, P B, Sestito, S R, & Rouse, S T 2015, ‘An expanded task battery in the Morris water maze reveals effects of Toxoplasma gondii infection on learning and memory in rats’, Parasitology International, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 5–12.

Dubey, J P, Ferreira, L R, Alsaad, M, Verma, S K, Alves, D A, Holland, G A, & McConkey, G A 2016, ‘Experimental toxoplasmosis in rats induced orally with eleven strains of Toxoplasma gondii of seven genotypes: Tissue tropism, tissue cyst size, neural lesions, tissue cyst rupture without reactivation, and ocular lesions’, PLoS ONE, vol. 11, no. 5, e0156255.

Evans, A K, Strassmann, P S, Lee, I P, & Sapolsky, R M 2014, ‘Patterns of Toxoplasma gondii cyst distribution in the forebrain associate with individual variation in predator odor avoidance and anxiety-related behaviour in male Long-Evans rats’, Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, vol. 37, no.1 , pp. 122-133.

Lim, A, Kumar, V, Dass, S A H D, & Vya S, A 2012, ‘Toxoplasma gondii infection enhances testicular steroidogenesis in rats’, Molecular Ecology, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 102–110.

McConkey, G A, Martin, H L Bristow, G C, & Webster, J P 2013, ‘Toxoplasma gondii infection and behaviour – location, location, location?’, The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 216, no. 1, pp. 113-119.

Mitra, R, Sapolsky, R M. & Vyas, A 2013, ‘Toxoplasma gondii infection induces dendritic retraction in basolateral amygdala accompanied by reduced corticosterone secretion’, Disease Models & Mechanisms, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 516-520.

Parlog, A, Schlüter. D & Dunay, J R 2015, ‘Toxoplasma gondii-induced neuronal alterations’, Parasite Immunology, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 159-170.

Swierzy, T, Muhammad, M, Kroll, J, Abelmann, A, Tenter, A B, Lüder, K J K 2014, ‘Toxoplasma gondii within skeletal muscle cells: a critical interplay for food-borne parasite transmission’, International Journal for Parasitology, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 91–98.

Tan, D, Soh, L J T, Lim, L W, & Daniel. T C D 2015, ‘Infection of male rats with Toxoplasma gondii results in enhanced delay aversion and neural changes in the nucleus accumbens core’, Proceedings of the Royal Society, vol. 8, no. 282, pp. 1-8.

Vyas, A 2015, ‘Mechanisms of Host Behavioural Change in Toxoplasma gondii Rodent Association’, PLoS Pathogens, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. e1004953.

Literary Heritage Of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf Virginia Woolf is regarded as one of the key English writers of the 20th century who shaped the modernist tradition. She became a narrative pioneer, being the first who discussed topics of gender, feminism, and freedom from the standpoint of a woman. Another innovation that she has implemented is the language itself: she happened to be the first author to popularize the nonconventional way, using the method of stream of consciousness.

Woolf’s writings are considered to be complicated as they require a detailed study of her creative development. This includes the exploration of her biography, the discovery of central sources of inspiration, and the recognition of fundamental ideas. Then, to understand Woolf’s style, the discovery of its principal features is needed. It involves the research of her key works, such as “The Voyage Out”, “Mrs. Dalloway”, “To the Lighthouse”, and “Orlando: A Biography”.

Woolf is perceived as a complex author, the exact and clear understanding of whose works requests the synopsis of her biography. Born in 1882 in South Kensington, she was raised in the family of a writer, Leslie Stephen. He provided her with access to a large home library and encouraged her to start writing when she was studying classics and history at the Ladies’ Department of King’s College London. Corbett states that being a student, Woolf got inspired by the early movement for women’s rights. Then, this topic manifests in her works from the very first novel “The Voyage Out” firstly published in 1915. Her mother died when Woolf was 13 and her father deceased when she was 22. The deaths provoked mental breakdowns which influenced the author’s focus on the stream of consciousness instead of linear narratives.

Another factor that contributed to the development of her ideas and style was the friendship with her brothers with whom she moved to Bloomsbury after their father passed away. There she became a part of The Bloomsbury Group where she developed her style. Moreover, her marriage to Leonard Woolf in 1912 also should be taken into consideration. Being a writer himself, in 1917 her husband established The Hogarth Press, a publishing house that published most of Woolf’s works till she died in 1941.

Until the very end of her life, Woolf was constantly exploring the works of contemporary authors and classics. Russian literature, especially the works of Dostoevsky shaped her aesthetics and rose her interest in writing the moment, without any plans. Then, from the Russian tradition, she acquired the dialectics of the literary figure and the polyphonic form of narration with several equal voices in the book. Corbett mentions that this method finds its realization in Woolf’s work “To the Lighthouse” (72).

Furthermore, she remastered Chekhov’s attitude to plots: simple stories of ordinary people can become dramatic and powerful if irony and reality are balanced. Apart from elements of the Russian literary school, Woolf was highly inspired by Henry Thoreau’s s mystical approach to the ordinary. The influence of his atmosphere follows Woolf’s works, including “Orlando: A Biography”.

Woolf’s background reveals what influences her style and shows how the central feministic idea of her writing was formed, but it was not the writer’s only concept. Her understanding of feminism was based on her fundamental ideas that including humanism and gender identity. To begin with, humanism should be marked as the core of the free-minded tradition of her works. Born in a non-religious family, Woolf developed anti-religious views that enabled her to distance herself from the church and work on her personal views. In her works she emphasized that religions can tear souls apart, being destructive to every conscious person.

According to her position, the life of a human being has the highest value. A person’s sufferings are more important than religious requirements, meanwhile, the emotional and physical well-being of every individual should be the core target of society.

The next Woolf’s core idea is the matter of gender identity which was widely explored by the author in “Orlando: A Biography” published in 1928. The plot of the novel depicts the sudden transformation of the key literary figure, Orlando, from a man to a woman. Despite this physical transition, thoughts, ideas, intellect, and the identity of Orlando remain the same. According to Corbett, this illustrates Woolf’s attitude to the concept of gender as artificial and archaic (201). Woolf’s point of view is that both genders are equal and indissociable. Nevertheless, the division is primarily negative for women who are dejected by their sex: to solve this problem, Woolf shapes her feministic ideas.

Marked as one of the central feminist figures of the last century, Woolf touches on the theme nearly in all of her works. The development of the topic peaks in “A Room of One’s Own”. Woolf claims that “women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” The passage reflects the author’s attitude to women’s power and the oppressed position that needs to be changed. She emphasizes that women and men are equally intelligent, but women are used by men to acquire dominion. At the beginning of the last century, it was practically impossible for a female writer to set her view radically and with such clarity, but Woolf kept on developing the topic from her first works.

“The Voyage Out” is the first novel where the author reflected on her approaches to the understanding of femininity and marriages. The main literary figure of Woolf’s work marries, but her family is unconventional, seeking the intellectual. Quigley points out that this was the writer’s earliest attempt to show women’s intelligence. Then, in 1925 “Mrs. Dalloway” was created, regarded as a female’s response to James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

This was explained by the same methods of stream of consciousness and flashbacks used. Though stylistic similarities exist, the plots are built from the pole points of view. With inner dialogues and retrospectives used, Woolf aimed to represent Clarissa as a person seeking happiness. For the writer, this novel was not primarily an experiment of allusions and metaphors, it was focused on the characters. Forms and narration came to the front later with “To the Lighthouse”.

Published in 1927, “To the Lighthouse” is considered to be Woolf’s brightest example of modernist writing. The key features of the work include its form and the type of narration. The novel is divided into three parts: “The Window”, “Time Passes”, and “The Lighthouse”. The storyline is centered on the Ramsays, but the three episodes happen at different times, and the plot is not as important as the emotions described. The first part is calm, but with the prediction described, is written to provide readers with the feeling of presentiment. The second is focused on the topic of death, while the third is about the concepts of time and reflections.

In the end, Woolf describes flashbacks positively, as “reading a good book again, for she knew the end of that story since it had happened twenty years ago.” Such an attitude proves that the narration is modernistic and distorted for the readers to portray the events taking both the experience of the characters and their ideas about their development into consideration.

To highlight the core aspects of “Orlando: A Biography”, the two main aspects should be pointed out. First of all, this satiric novel can be perceived as an anti-gender manifesto, and as a historical introduction to English literature. Second, in this work Woolf criticizes the most common cliches of the Victorian Times. For example, she depicts the concept of eternal life and the abundance of orientalism in the literature of that epoch. According to Corbett, the novel should be analyzed as an anti-gender one. Obvious to the author equality of women and men are described, but being a woman is satirically described as a gift to praise.

Wolf emphasizes that as long as a woman thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking, but in other cases, she can be highly condemned. Then, the maternal roles of women are diminished: Orlando became a mother, but that was not the last stop of her journey, because she was searching for the best form of her potential realization. Meanwhile, Wolf showed lesbianism: women are not attached to men physically, and their sexuality can vary.

Regarding the stylistic development of Woolf’s key works, it may be pointed out that the author was gradually changing the way of incorporating her ideas. The progress in her writing was caused by the instant search for the form which would reflect and emphasize the meaning of the plot. For example, though Woolf was developing feministic ideas in her very first works, she managed to depict her understanding of time, and genders only by using the method of stream of consciousness and allegories. According to Woolf’s works, the simplicity of forms leads to a superficial reflection of the core ideas. Inspired by modernists of her time, she created her way of narration. Her depiction of the flood of thoughts is not chaotic, but distorted, and manifests her acquired skills in “To the Lighthouse” and “Orlando: A Biography”.

To sum up, the literary heritage of Virginia Woolf can be considered complicated, but her works become understandable through the investigation of her complex development as an author. The peculiarities of Woolf’s biography shaped the freedom of her thought and enabled the writer to explore topics, nonconventional for the epoch she lived in. Inspired by multivalued Russian authors and Henry Thoreau, Woolf was researching the problems of humanism, gender identity, and feminism from the perspective of a woman. The method of stream of consciousness is used to illustrate her ideas: humankind is indivisible, every action leads to consequences, and gender is an artificial concept. Woolf is a genuine pioneer of her time whose writings need to be studied in the scope of her creative development.

Works Cited

Corbett, Mary. Behind the Times: Virginia Woolf in Late-Victorian Contexts. Cornell University Press. 2020.

Quigley, Megan. “Reading Virginia Woolf Logically: Resolute Approaches to The Voyage Out and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.” Poetics Today, vol. 41, no 1, 2020, pp. 101–116.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Benediction Classics. 2017.

—.Orlando: A Biography. Mariner Books. 1973.

—.To the Lighthouse. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1989.

—.The Voyage Out. Andesite Press. 2015.

The Efficacy Of Breastmilk Over Formula In Newborn Infants


Breastfeeding is one of the most key aspects of post-partum care. Mothers are generally encouraged to breastfeed and many express desire to do so. However, despite recommendations, many introduce formula partially or fully in the first months or even weeks of an infant’s life. Formula is an FDA approved product that mimics human milk and has many of similar nutrients, but is unable to match all the natural elements that breastmilk may include. Due to social pressures, breastfeeding is a point of contention, therefore even with identified benefits there has been a continuous discussion regarding the efficacy of formula as a potential replacement for breastfeeding.

Selection of the topic

The topic is undoubtedly interesting, and it pivots into my personal interest in neonatal and post-partum care. Anecdotal data indicating that millennial mothers are choosing formula more, particularly due to reasons of convenience, is concerning. Although the subject has been studied excessively, modern evidence could provide new insights on the issue. In turn, it will guide decision-making in clinical healthcare and patient guidance to ensure mothers are making the right choices for themselves and their infants.

PICOT Question

The PICOT question highlights the fundamentals of the investigation. The population are breastfeeding mothers, that is intentional, not ‘new’ mothers. That is because if a mother is unable to breastfeed for some medical reason, it is evident that formula will be necessary for the survival of the infant. Here, the investigation focuses on choice. The use of breast milk is the intervention because even thought it is the recommended standard, it is ultimately the action that health professionals want to take. Obviously, the comparison being to formula. Outcomes are general focused on infant health and development with an impact that breastfeeding has. Finally, the time is 6 months, because that is the recommended time period for exclusive breastfeeding post-partum.


It is important to note that every major U.S. and global, both private and public, health organizations or agencies have continuously emphasized the importance of breastfeeding as the primary source of infant feeding. Breastfeeding is known to aid in establishing a stronger immune system which benefits both the mother and the infant, decreasing incidence and severity of a wide range of infections such as respiratory or GI tract. Breast milk contains vital antibodies, which have the unique capacity to stimulate the infant’s immune system and offer passive protection until it is safe to administer vaccinations. Formula cannot do this in any capacity, and only offers the nutritional elements (also arguably not as rich compared to breast milk) but not the health benefits.

As a result of protection against infections and other health conditions, mortality has been generally lower in breastfed infants. Important to note, that researchers generally emphasize the difficulty of comparison because so many other factors come into play both in the context of the breastfeeding issue and overall infant health. However, associations have been found to reduce risks of allergies, asthma, diabetes, and even obesity.

Breastmilk is also generally more easily digestible by infants due to their digestive system and components of the human milk that cannot be recreated in formula. Neurodevelopmental elements as well as the emotional concept of skin-to-skin contact are other benefits. Overall, it is strongly recommended to engage in exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months prior to introducing formula or other foods.

As part of the evidence, it is important to consider not only the start of breastfeeding when the mother is in the hospital, but the continuation of it. While most mothers express desire to fully breastfeed, they stop it early, at around 4 months, with only half the mothers feeding their infants at all by 6 months, with a significant portion switching partially or fully to formula. This is due to personal factors such as pain, poor body image, convenience, as well as social pressures or lack of a support system, including in healthcare. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a system of support and education, both for mothers and the general public on continuous benefits of breastfeeding until 6 months at the very least.

Integration into Practice

Evidence should be integrated into practice through post-partum counseling offered by physicians, nurses, or midwives. Evidence continues to demonstrate overwhelming support for exclusive breastfeeding, without formula in the first six months of the infant’s life. Staff play a critical role in educating and advising mothers on the best course of action. It is vital to present all the benefits and information in a manner which is understandable to the patients.

Nevertheless, it should be understood that breastfeeding is a highly sensitive issue from all kinds of perspectives, social, cultural, psychological, individual health. Western society both pushes mothers to breastfeed, making it an association of good motherhood, but at the same time shames them in many ways. Staff have to weigh these considerations and provide support for mothers. As mentioned, formula feeding may be often used unnecessarily and early, due to convenience or poor experiences with breastfeeding. Experienced staff can guide mothers in dealing with these issues, i.e. if an infant has trouble latching which is often distraught to mothers, there are techniques that can be tried before resorting to formula. Providers should not pressure mothers to breastfeed but give them the information and tools to make their own decision.


While evaluation may be difficult to gauge with this type of intervention, particularly because ethics do not allow for double blind studies giving infants formulas. Therefore, evaluation of effectiveness will have to rely on observation and statistics. It is important for staff to keep track of the effectiveness of the intervention and counseling to identify if any changes have to be made in the process or if something is not being received well by the mothers. The key objective is to provide accurate information and recommendations so that the mothers choose the best evidence-based practice from a clinical standpoint.


Evidence demonstrates that breastmilk has significant benefits over the use of formula. There is general intent among Western mothers to breastfeed but various factors ranging from physiological to psychological and socio-cultural create barriers. Formula is not inherently bad, but it can cause complications with breastfeeding and should not be used unnecessarily, especially in the first months. Health professionals should counsel and encourage mothers towards exclusive breastfeeding, providing the guidance to navigate individual or social support issues they may face.


Brown, A. (2018). Breastfeeding as a public health responsibility: A review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: The Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association, 30(6), 759–770. 

Feldman-Winter, L., & Kellams, A. (2020). In-hospital formula feeding and breastfeeding duration. Pediatrics, 146(1), e20201221. 

Hanawalt, Z. H. (2019). Millennial moms choose formular feeding for convenience. Parents

Holcomb, J. (2017). Resisting guilt: Mothers’ breastfeeding intentions and formula use. Sociological Focus, 50(4), 361–374. Web.

McCoy, M. B., & Heggie, P. (2020). In-hospital formula feeding and breastfeeding duration. Pediatrics, 146(1), e20192946. 

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018). Questions & answers for consumers concerning infant formula

Wagner, C. L. (2021). Counseling the breastfeeding mother. Medscape. Web.

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