📰 An Ancient Virus May Be Responsible for Human Consciousness | Live Science
Author: Rafi Letzter
Full Title: An Ancient Virus May Be Responsible for Human Consciousness | Live Science
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.
A review published in Cell in 2016 found that between 40 and 80 percent of the human genome arrived from some archaic viral invasion.
"These processes underlie brain functions ranging from classical operant conditioning to human cognition and the concept of 'self,'" they wrote.