Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Octopuses were Given MDMA by Scientists - Here’s how they Reacted

Octopus bimaculoides the species that was used in the experiment Ecstasy Makes Octopuses More Social And Touchy: Study
Samantha Long | 22 September, 2018, 22:56

Scientists conducted this test to understand the brain mechanism which controls social behavior, publishing their findings in the journal Current Biology.

Yes, ecstasy - molly, E, MDMA, the party drug, which in humans reduces fear and inhibition, induces feelings of empathy, distorts time and helps people dance to electronic music all night.

A freaky question to some, however Gül Dölen, a neuroscientist from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine posed the question, experimented with this idea alongside colleagues and found "unbelievable" results. While humans are naturally social creatures, octopuses prefer a solitary existence and rarely socialise, with the exception of mating. They ignored or avoided contact with the other octopus and just kind of sat around being all squishy and stuff. "The fact that they induced this very sort of gentle, cuddly behavior is really pretty fascinating".

Scientists have studied how ecstasy affects California doflamingo octopus Octopus bimaculoides, which is known for its aggressive behavior to all organisms, among them his relatives. The scientists gave octopuses MDMA, also called "ecstasy", to see how they would react, and they ended up doing the exact same things humans do.

Researchers Dölen and marine and evolutionary biologist Eric Edsinger of the Marine Biology Laboratory discovered a genetic similarity between humans and octopuses. The results of this preliminary experience, so we need a new study before octopi becomes necessary organisms for the study of brain and behavior.

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There were four octopuses that were used in the study and each was placed in a water diluted with MDMA as the octopuses absorbed the drug through their gills. All four tended to spend more time in the chamber where an octopus was caged than the other two chambers. Dolen said, "Octopuses will suspend their antisocial behaviour for mating, for example". Without the drug, octopuses approached the cage carefully with one tentacle stretched out, but when on MDMA the octopuses behaved much different. The similar effect is observed despite 500+ million years of evolution separating humans and invertebrates like the octopus.

At that point, they were set in the experimental chambers for 30 minutes.

"It's not just quantitatively more time, but qualitative", Dölen said in a statement. 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.

"If we look at the part of the gene that encodes the binding pocket of the receptor - it's very similar", Edsinger said.

At first, when they received a little too much MDMA, they breathed erratically and turned white.

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