Virus discovered that makes you dumber

November 12, 2014 12:35 PM

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Are you you? Modern science is asking this question with increasing persistence, whether through understanding of the mechanics of inherited characteristics or of the multiplicity of the brain. Probably the most area of research that most powerfully challenges our assumptions about self, however, is microbiology. A person’s gut “microbiome” is better at identifying them than their fingerprint, and you’ve probably heard that there are more bacterial cells in your body than human ones — more by quite a margin — but the sheer numbers are less affecting than how powerfully they can affect our behavior. Everything from indigestion to your level of energy can be dictated by the gut microbes without whom you would quickly die, and new evidence has implicated them in yet another aspect of life: intelligence.

In this case, we’re actually talking about a virus associated with microorganisms, an infectious agent called ACTV-1 that generally attacks algae. The researchers were doing research into the effect of viruses on the brain when they discovered ACTV-1 DNA in several participants’ throats. These parti...

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