You’ve got an ancient virus in your brain. In fact, you’ve got an ancient virus at the very root of your conscious thought.
According to two papers published in the journal Cell in January, long ago, a virus bound its genetic code to the genome of four-limbed animals. That snippet of code is still very much alive in humans’ brains today, where it does the very viral task of packaging up genetic information and sending it from nerve cells to their neighbors in little capsules that look a whole lot like viruses themselves.
And these little packages of information might be critical elements of how nerves communicate and reorganize over time — tasks thought to be necessary for higher-order thinking, the researchers said.