Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Nebraska have discovered a virus that may increase dumbness in people.
The scientists stumbled upon the previously unknown “stupidity virus” in the throat cultures of healthy subjects during a completely unrelated experiment.
The 44 percent of people who tested positive for the virus performed 7 to 9 points lower on IQ tests that measured attention span and how fast and accurately people process visual information.
When the Nebraska researchers injected the virus into the digestive systems of mice, same thing. The rodents blundered around mazes, appeared baffled by new toys and seemed oblivious to new entry ways in and out of their cages.
“This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behavior and cognition,” said lead investigator Dr. Robert Yolken, a virologist and pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore who led the study.
Yolken said this unintended study provides a good example of how behavior and psychology come down to more than the genes you inherit from your parents. Some of these traits may be shaped and influenced by the trillions of viruses, bacteria and fungi that colonize our bodies, he said.