Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
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Octopuses Were Given MDMA And Started Hugging Eachother

Octopuses Were Given MDMA And Started Hugging Eachother

But, a study published this week in Current Biology found that when scientists spiked the water in their tank with MDMA, a psychoactive compound commonly known as Ecstasy, something remarkable happened - the prickly octopuses transformed into warm and fuzzy creatures.

Still, he thinks it's unbelievable that this drug has somewhat similar behavioral effects. A weird 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. They spend more time around the octopus in the cage, even spreading their limbs to symbolize "an eight-armed hug".

That is how they had octopuses on ecstasy, all in the name of science, of course.

Specialists have found that changing the social behaviour of octopuses resembles a human, but for unknown reasons, while it is suppressed.

And there was a question to be answered about whether ancient neurotransmitter systems - octopus and human lineages are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution - are still shared across vertebrate and invertebrate species. Octopuses can open jars, pick the World Cup winners and make escape attempts.

For the MDMA experiment, four male and four female octopuses were exposed to the drug, before being put in the experimental chamber for 30 minutes.


A U.S. study, released in Current Biology, has made the interesting discovery that a species of octopus considered to be a solitary and asocial creature has a similar response to the drug. The behavioural reactions of the animals were similar to humans when they take ecstasy write the authors. According to the study, lower doses of ecstasy helped the marine creatures become more friendly and sensitive. Before the octopuses received the MDMA, they all avoided the male octopus. And except when mating, they are notably unfriendly to other octopuses.

"What our studies suggest is that certain brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, that send signals between neurons required for these social behaviours are evolutionarily conserved".

The researchers concluded from the experiment that, just like humans, MDMA enhanced the acute prosocial behaviors in California two-spot octopuses. Dölen hoped that her experiment would show them whether the drug would enable the animal to behave more socially. They then returned them to the sectioned-off chambered areas in the aquarium. 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.

DOLEN: First of all, they spent significantly more time in the side of the tank, the chamber, that had the other octopus in it.

"I have to admit that it was totally trial and error".

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