Ecstasy Makes Octopuses More Social And Touchy

Octopus bimaculoides the species that was used in the experiment

A new study has found that when octopuses are intoxicated with MDMA, they act like humans who are high on the same drug.

Octopuses are nearly entirely antisocial, except when they're mating, and scientists who study them have to house them separately so they don't kill or eat each other.

Meanwhile, the researchers are sequencing the genomes of two other octopus species that behave differently from O. bimaculoides, in the hopes of shedding more light into how their social behaviours evolved.

"These molecular similarities are sufficient to enable MDMA to induce prosocial behaviours in octopuses".

Dolen said she would like to do more tests with more animals, such as giving MDMA to an octopus at the same time as Prozac or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that bind to the same receptor.

The data obtained allowed to conclude that in the body of the octopus there is the plot, which is responsible for the involvement of the serotonergic system in the regulation of social behavior. 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.

According to NPR, scientists chose a specifically low dose of MDMA, since higher doses gave a profoundly different result. "They were just taking these postures of super hypervigilance". For the next 30 minutes the test animals were placed inside the experimental chambers. She added that the study of psychedelics and other recreational drugs is no longer deemed to be a "risque topic".

Four male and female octopuses were placed in a tank that contained a liquefied version of ecstasy, and then transferred individually onto three-chambered tanks.

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

Perhaps we're not so different from the octopuses after all.

What's more, without the drug, any octopus that approached the stranger at all would remain very reserved, perhaps only reaching out one arm to tentatively touch the other animal's cage.

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

Robert Malenka, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Stanford University, who was not involved with this study, called for increased study of MDMA in an influential Cell paper in 2016.

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

GREENFIELDBOYCE: At least, it seems to. Zachary Mainen is a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Portugal.

Humans and octopuses are separated by over 500 million years of evolution, but they share something in common: both feel good on party drugs.

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