Jan 20, 2023 UPMC Neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Maroon, was recently interviewed by KDKA TV Morning Show host John Shumway about the new HBO Show The Last of Us. In the interview Dr. Maroon is asked whether the fungus infection, that creates the zombies in the show, could happen in real life.
“There’s no way at least with the knowledge we have now that it can actually take over those networks to control our executive function,” Dr. Maroon said. “Our salience network and how we feel or our creativity.” So, to quell your nightmares, Dr. Maroon said it’s “science fiction, and it’s not anything you and I are going to see in our lifetime.”
Dr. Maroon goes on to explain that a type of fungal infection can affect the brain and can be very serious, but not control the thinking parts of the brain. The creators of the HBO show appear to expand the effects of a type of virus that can infect ants, called, cordyceps, that once infected causes the ant to be controlled like a zombie. Per WIKIPEDIA, infected ants change their behavior and attach to a leaf, where they die as the fugus takes over.
Dr. Maroon admits he is not an expert on zombies but the devastation of a fugal infection in the brain can be a true nightmare. See the video of the KDKA TV2 interview below: