Party 'Pus: Ecstasy Makes Octopuses More Social

An octopus

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

American biologists have found that individuals doflamingo California octopus react to ecstasy is exactly the same as the people become more social.

When The Beatles recorded the song "Octopus's Garden", they probably imagined a friendly octopus that invited humans to sing and dance around in their underwater garden (in the shade).

The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others, and a study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses.

A difficulty that the researchers had with this experiment was that it wasn't easy to determine just how much ecstasy the octopuses should be given.

In fact - our mood, social behavior, sleep, and sexual desire are all regulated by the neurotransmitter serotonin.

A neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London named Professor David Nutt said the results of this study also provide more evidence that a wide range of species experience emotion and empathy: "This just proves that this is not some peculiar human characteristic, it's not even a mammalian characteristic, it's a characteristic of brains".

"My lab has been studying MDMA for a long time, and we have worked out a lot of neural mechanisms that enable MDMA to have these really, really profound pro-social effects", she said. Dolen said, "Octopuses will suspend their antisocial behaviour for mating, for example". But an octopus on MDMA would get up-close and personal with the new neighbor.

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Then they were placed in the experimental chambers for 30 minutes. Unlike more socially inclined humans, the mighty octopus is a far more solitary creature - definitely not one for raving under strobe lights.

The design of the experiment testing the octopus' interaction with novel objects and other another octopus. One of these chambers is empty, one of them has a plastic action figure trapped within a cage and yet another has a male or a female laboratory bred octopus trapped within a cage. One central room, one containing a male octopus, and another that held within it a toy.

But on lower doses, one animal "looked like it was doing water ballet", swimming around with outstretched arms.

DOLEN: Whereas after MDMA, they were essentially hugging the flower pot that had the other octopus in it. Current Biology, Sept. 20, 2018. She says octopuses have a very different, doughnut-shaped brain.

JUDIT PUNGOR: That has absolutely no business acting like ours does, but here they show that it does.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: At least, it seems to. So it's really - it's totally fascinating.

Octopus and human lineages are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution, and yet their genomic analyses showed that O. bimaculoides has the serotonin transporter gene known to serve as the principle binding site of MDMA.

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