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Mayo Clinic study suggests that a central nervous system viral infection can lead to memory deficits

interventions is clearly needed," the authors wrote.

Clinical case studies indicate that picornavirus infections in humans may be associated with inflammation of the brain and damage to the hippocampus -- the part of the brain responsible for forming, storing and processing memory. Inflammation-induced damage to the brain is believed to be associated with learning and memory deficits.

Because picornaviruses are widespread and infection is common, the potential for this family of viruses to damage the human brain presents a very real medical problem, Dr. Howe says.

In general, viruses that kill neurons in the hippocampus are not uncommon. For example infections caused by the herpes virus or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can lead to the loss of brain cells, but while brain damage from these viruses is based on a persistent infection, brain damage from a picornavirus infection occurs only during the acute phase of infection.

"Because they are all related, by studying one, we may learn something about all of them. My hope is that we will learn something about the virus and the serious illnesses associated with other viruses in this family," Dr. Howe says.

"Because hippocampus injury was correlated with reduced spatial memory formation across a range of damage and a range of memory performance, we suggest that picornavirus infection of the human central nervous system is likely to result in at least some degree of neurological deficit," the authors write.


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Source:Mayo Clinic


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