An experiment were concluded where 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.

The results were same when the Nebraska researchers injected the virus into the digestive systems of mice.

The rodents blundered around mazes, appeared puzzled with new toys and seemed inattentive to new entry ways in and out of their cages. The researchers concluded that they acted a bit stupider than the average mouse.

“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.

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.

“Viruses are infectious agents that invade cells and replicate themselves within those cells, said Dr Aaron E Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Yolken said this particular virus may work by changing the way genes are expressed in an area of the brain responsible for memory and other higher brain functions. He also said he has suspected for some time that viruses have ways of messing with human intelligence.

The new research appears in the latest issue of the online journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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