Dosing Octopuses With Ecstasy Makes Them Act Like Humans On MDMA According To A Study By Johns Hopkins University Doctors

Friday, 21 September 2018 - 11:07AM
Neuroscience
Weird Science
Friday, 21 September 2018 - 11:07AM
Dosing Octopuses With Ecstasy Makes Them Act Like Humans On MDMA According To A Study By Johns Hopkins University Doctors
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Better known as ecstasy or MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a psychoactive drug that is used recreationally to give people a sense of euphoria and increased energy. But what happens when you give it to something that is decidedly not a person? A group of scientists led by Dr. Gül Dölen of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently conducted a study using octopuses and discovered that the effects of the "love drug" are not unique to human brains and that octopuses on MDMA can get just as touchy-feely when they're high.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the study involved a multi-chamber setup: one room was left empty, the second featured a plastic toy in a cage, and the third featured a sober male octopus in a cage. Octopuses (male and female) were given a soak in ecstasy-tainted water, while others were left stone-cold sober just like the caged control specimen. The sober octopuses tended to avoid Mr. Cagey (not the subject's real name – as far as we know), but the high ones gravitated to that chamber and all personal space boundaries were crossed.

"It's not just quantitatively more time, but qualitative. They tended to hug the cage and put their mouthparts on the cage," Dr. Dölen said in a statement. "This is very similar to how humans react to MDMA; they touch each other frequently."



"The brains of octopuses are more similar to those of snails than humans, but our studies add to evidence that they can exhibit some of the same behaviors that we can," Dölen explained. "What our studies suggest is that certain brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, that send signals between neurons required for these social behaviors are evolutionarily conserved." By continuing to study the effects of the drug on the brain, scientists can further their research into how controlled use of the drug can help in PTSD therapy and other medical applications.

Something the study doesn't reveal is how Mr. Cagey felt about the unsolicited attention – but if you've ever been the only sober person at a concert, you know exactly how he felt.
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