Ecstasy Makes Octopuses More Friendly, Study Shows

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

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

That allowed the team to make comparisons between the genes in octopuses and humans.

Gloomy Octopus, Octopus tetricus, clearly not on ecstacy!

Scientists in the USA have revealed that octopuses under the influence of ecstasy become highly social.

While there could be alternative explanations for the octopus's friendliness, the conclusion provided by the researchers seem to be the most robust out of all of them. Neuroscientist Gül Dölen, who studies social behavior at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and octopus expert Eric Edsinger, a research fellow at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., bathed octopuses in the psychedelic drug and observed the result.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States say the drug affected the creatures in a similar way to humans.

The findings suggest brain chemicals may be key to social behaviour across very different species. Nonetheless, an octopus under the influence of MDMA is very likely to invite you into their underwater garden, while singing and dancing to The Beatles. The drug was presented in a liquefied form within a beaker in which the test animals were dropped. They absorbed the MDMA through their gills.

In order to see how the octopus reacts to ecstasy, the octopus was placed in a three-chamber tank, in the water which added the drug: the individual was in the Central room and the rooms on either side of it was either a new subject or a new individual. "They even exposed their [underside], where their mouth is, which is not something octopuses usually do", Dölen says. This behaviour was similar to that of humans when they are under the influence of MDMA.

MDMA, has always been known as a party drug that inspires a sense of euphoria and empathy along with a desire to dance all night.

"After MDMA, they were essentially hugging", says Dolen, who explains that the octopuses were "really just much more relaxed in posture, and using a lot more of their body to interact with the other octopus".

Still, he thinks it's fantastic that this drug has somewhat similar behavioral effects.

Based on what the scientists said, the goal of this demonstration is to see how serotonin can affect social interaction.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Then they put the octopus into a tank. "But of course what the octopus tells us is this is not universally true, since octopuses don't have a cortex, and yet they can perform fantastic cognitive feats".

The researchers are now in the process of sequencing the genomes of two other species of octopus, which are closely related to each other but differ in their behaviors. When researchers inactivated this region in the prefrontal cortex, the rhesus monkeys became less inclined to choose a long shot over a sure thing, the team reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology.