Scientists Gave Octopuses Ecstasy, Here's What Happened
Scientists Gave Octopuses Ecstasy, Here's What Happened
22 September, 2018, 22:58
"This is very similar to how humans react to MDMA; they touch each other frequently", she said.
The octopus who normally leads an anti-social existence.
Octopuses typically avoid others, including its own species.
While there could be alternative explanations for the octopus's friendliness, the conclusion provided by the researchers seem to be the most robust out of all of them.
Scientists have found out what happens when you give an octopus MDMA - nearly the exact same thing as when you give it to a human. Scientists chose to use octopuses for the experiment as humans are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution with them and the goal was to uncovering the ancient origins of social behavior.
Octopuses are very mysterious and complex creatures, but how different are they really from humans? That applies even though numerous nerve cells that react to serotonin are in an octopus's arms. MDMA changes how serotonin travels between brain cells, hence the feelings of affection and warmth experienced by those who take the drug. Whether that demonstrates an increase in something like love or affection for each other, though, is still up for debate.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod found that, just like humans, notoriously reserved (and sometimes violent) octopuses act friendly and social when they're exposed to MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy or Molly.
The findings show that despite being evolutionarily distant from invertebrate species like octopuses, humans share a common evolutionary heritage that enables serotonin to encode social behaviors, the researchers say. "Then, when they are done mating, they go into aggressive, asocial mode", said Prof Dolen.
Then they were placed in the experimental chambers for 30 minutes. She said that this could mean that the signalling molecules such as the neurotransmitters may be similar in octopuses and humans and may have been conserved over evolutionary progress. She added that the study of psychedelics and other recreational drugs is no longer deemed to be a "risque topic".
"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. "They were just taking these postures of super hypervigilance". Also in that tank was another octopus that was confined to a cage - well, really an upside-down flower pot with holes in it. Octopuses would ordinarily stay far away from the imprisoned stranger, but not so on ecstasy.
"An octopus doesn't have a cortex, and doesn't have a reward circuit", Dölen said.
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