Worms and learning

July 4, 1997

A study at Edinburgh University of how parasitic infection affects the learning ability of rats and mice could have big implications for children in developing countries suffering from parasitic worm infections.

The project, led by biologist Victoria Braithwaite, will look at the behaviour of infected rodents as they try to find a hidden platform in a water maze. Their behaviour will be compared with that of a control group of rodents.

Dr Braithwaite says many children in third world countries are suffering from parasitic worm infections. If it is found that chronic parasitic infection affects learning and memory, it may eventually be possible to devise drug programmes for the children before they reach crucial stages in their education, she says.

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