Shy octopus on ecstasy behaves the same as human

Ecstasy makes octopuses happy too study finds

"The brains of octopuses are more similar to those of snails than humans, but our studies add to evidence that they can exhibit some of the same behaviors that we can", Dölen said.

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. As you may probably know, octopuses are usually solitary, however, during this experiment, thanks to the drugs that they were "administered", they became very cuddly with the other octopus that was in a cage. 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.

But given a dose of presumably high-quality lab MDMA, the research team found that it responded in much the same way as humans would - by "becoming much more interested than usual in engaging with one other". Scientists chose to use octopuses for the experiment as humans are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution with them and the goal was to uncovering the ancient origins of social behavior.

The experiment conducted, Fortune reported, involved placing a "hand-sized" octopus in the center chamber of a three-chambered tank. That applies even though numerous nerve cells that react to serotonin are in an octopus's arms. Whether that demonstrates an increase in something like love or affection for each other, though, is still up for debate.

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Then they were placed in the experimental chambers for 30 minutes. And any similarities in octopus and human genetic code related to this system could help her understand how the brain - down to its tiniest bits - evolved to govern social behaviors.

Under a heavy dose of the drug (greater than a human would take recreationally), the octopuses acted "freaked out" and would just "stare at everything". The presence of a similar role of serotonin in the octopus, which parted evolutionary ways with humans far in the distant past, suggests that the physical structures that underlie emotional connection are deeply wired. Octopuses are believed to be Earth's first intelligent beings, and the study could kick-start research of linking intelligence with anti-social behavior. They spend more time around the octopus in the cage, even spreading their limbs to symbolize "an eight-armed hug". That allowed the team to make comparisons between the genes in octopuses and humans.

In 2008, Otto the octopus - a resident at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany - caused havoc after learning he could turn off the light in his aquarium by climbing to the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water at it.

"They have this huge complex brain that they've built, that has absolutely no business acting like ours does - but here they show that it does", said Pungor. So it's really - it's totally fascinating.


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