A virus that infects human brains and affects people’s intelligence have been discovered by American scientists. Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska stumbled upon the surprise discovery when undertaking an unrelated study into throat microbes. The team discovered that DNA present in the throats of healthy individuals was the same as that of the algae virus.
The algae virus has never before been observed in healthy people and was discovered to affect cognitive functions such as visual processing and spatial awareness.
Of the 90 participants in the study, 40 tested positive for the algae. Later it was discovered that hose who had tested positive performed worse on tests that were designed to measure visual processing and attention spans.
The study was led by Dr Robert Yolken, a virologist, who said: “This is a striking example showing that the “innocuous” microorganisms we carry can affect behaviour and cognition.
Many physiological differences between person A and person B are encoded in the set of genes each inherits from parents, yet some of these differences are fuelled by the various microorganisms we harbour and the way they interact with our genes.”
Humans’ bodies contain trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Most are harmless, but the findings of this research show that there some microbes can have a detrimental impact on cognitive functions, while leaving individuals healthy.
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