Scientists found that the genetically-distant-from-humans octopus also gets more friendly on MDMA.
Honestly, this study doesn’t sound so “unbelievable” to me but drugs are fun. I don’t like MDMA because it made me want to hug people I know are jerks.
The fun began when the researchers gave MDMA to seven Octopus bimaculoides octopuses inside laboratory tanks. They hoped to test whether the animals behaved more socially after receiving a dose of MDMA—a sign that the drug bound to their serotonin transporters.
After hanging out in a bath containing ecstasy, the animals moved to a chamber with three rooms to pick from: a central room, one containing a male octopus and another containing a toy. This is a setup frequently used in mice studies. Before MDMA, the octopuses avoided the male octopus. But after the MDMA bath, they spent more time with the other octopus, according to the study published in Current Biology. They also touched the other octopus in what seemed to be an exploratory, rather than aggressive, manner.
The scientists took this to mean that despite our vastly different brains, social behavior is built into the very molecules coded by our DNA, Dölen explained.
“An octopus doesn’t have a cortex, and doesn’t have a reward circuit,” Gül Dölen, assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, told Gizmodo. “And yet it’s able to respond to MDMA and produce the same effects, in an animal with a totally different brain organization. To me, that means we really need to appreciate that the business end of these things is at the level of the molecule.”
Octopodes were long considered solitary creatures, but the discovery of a second seafloor dwelling with over a dozen inhabitants has scientists rethinking the social behavior of these little sea-geniuses.
Boy octopus meets girl octopus, and then they fall into one another’s (many) arms.
National Geographic’s Enric Sala took this photo during an expedition in Gabon. He and another researcher were using a remote operated vehicle to explore the ocean off the coast of that country’s Loango National Park. When we picked up the shell from the ROV’s arm, to our surprise, a small octopus came out of the […]
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