Octopuses drugged with ecstasy are more friendlier and social, study says

Octopuses given ecstasy by scientists become more friendly and sociable study finds

Seven octopuses received MDMA inside laboratory tanks. However, under the influence of ecstasy, researchers note that all four octopuses spent several minutes more in the chamber with the octopus compared to the other two, and they even observed hugging and non-aggressive exploratory behaviors that are typically only seen during mating season.

"My lab has been studying MDMA for a long time, she said, "and we have worked out a lot of neural mechanisms that enable MDMA to have these really, really profound pro-social effects".

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.

The experiment conducted, Fortune reported, involved placing a "hand-sized" octopus in the center chamber of a three-chambered tank. What sounds like the premise of a children's book set at Burning Man is, in fact, the conclusion of a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. Serotonin activity rises when exposed to ecstasy say researchers.

Dölen said that the findings of this study may open doors to for more accurate studies on the impact of psychiatric drug therapies in a variety of animals that are distantly related to people.

The data obtained allowed to conclude that in the body of the octopus there is the plot, which is responsible for part serotonergic system in the regulation of social behavior. But, serious interest in MDMA has grown as researchers have begun discovering promising applications of the drug in treating PTSD and other disorders. Mainen asks. "It's totally fascinating and super-suggestive, but I am not a hundred percent convinced that this is doing the same thing in octopus and in human". However, the MDMA trial group, consisting of four octopuses, showed significantly different behavior.

Scientists say the way they behave while on the drug may give insights into how social behaviour has evolved.

"It just shows us how much we don't know and how much there is out there to understand", Zachary Mainen, a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Portugal, told NPR. It was noticed that they spent more time with other octopuses and engaged in close physical contact.

From this reaction, the scientists took that despite the huge differences between the brains of an octopus and a human, social behavior came naturally built into our DNA.

One octopus was doing back flips, according to Dr Dolen, who said that some of the behaviours were so odd the research team couldn't quantify them.

Based on what the scientists said, the goal of this demonstration is to see how serotonin can affect social interaction. Not usually touchy feely creatures, after being given MDMA, the octopuses actually started hugging.

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