Вторник, 13 Ноября, 2018

Scientists Give MDMA to Octopuses & Get "Unbelievable" Results

Melissa Porter | 22 Сентября, 2018, 22:54

Scientists have studied how ecstasy affects the California two spotted octopus Octopus bimaculoides, which is known for its aggressive behavior in all organisms including their relatives.

The illegal substance commonly known as ecstasy (MDMA) can make humans euphoric and feel closer to others, a popular drug used in festivals or nightclubs.

The study in octopuses helps give scientists a better understanding of how the neurological mechanisms regulating social behavior evolved.

"They show that MDMA increases a particular type of social behavior in octopuses - namely, social approach and investigation of male unknown octopuses", said Gillinder Bedi, a researcher at Melbourne University in Australia who was not involved with this work.

Typically, octopuses are non-social creatures that tend to avoid or shy away from other creatures including other octopuses unless it is mating season.

Four male and female octopuses were exposed to MDMA by putting them into a beaker containing a liquefied version of the drug, which is absorbed by the octopuses through their gills. The study was published in Current Biology.

"After MDMA, they were essentially hugging", says Dolen, who explains that the octopuses were "really just much more relaxed in posture, and using a lot more of their body to interact with the other octopus".

A neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London named Professor David Nutt said the results of this study also provide more evidence that a wide range of species experience emotion and empathy: "This just proves that this is not some peculiar human characteristic, it's not even a mammalian characteristic, it's a characteristic of brains".

One octopus was doing back flips, according to Dr Dolen, who said that some of the behaviours were so unusual the research team couldn't quantify them.

Creatures across the whole of the animal kingdom exhibit social behaviours, from invertebrates including ants and bees, through to vertebrates like fish and primates.

"I have to admit that it was totally trial and error". In the first chamber, they placed a toy, the second was empty, and in the third they confined one of the octopuses. They then returned them to the sectioned-off chambered areas in the aquarium. MDMA acts by releasing more serotonin in the brain. When "high", the octopuses went straight to the caged solitary male.

"It just shows us how much we don't know and how much there is out there to understand", Zachary Mainen, a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Portugal, told NPR. He was reluctant, even after extensive questioning, to further describe what the octopuses did, because the scientists could not be sure if the MDMA had induced these actions.

"They were very loose", Dölen says.