New research has found that a virus thought only to infect freshwater algae can live in the throats of humans. It’s not certain whether the virus actually infects humans, but it was correlated with a slight decline in cognitive function, specifically in visual processing. It was also correlated with shorter attention spans. Mice infected with the virus also showed shorter attention spans, as well as reduced memory. This isn’t the first time a virus has been shown to affect human behavior, so it’s definitely within the realm of possibility. However, as this comic from xkcd reminds us, correlation does not imply causation. It’s unclear what mechanism the virus would use to affect behavior, and with the complexity of the human microbiome, there may be much more going on than we know right now.
Link to the article in Science Magazine here