Scientists Gave Octopuses Ecstasy and Watched What Would Happen

“After MDMA, they were essentially hugging...”

In the name of science, experts have decided to give Octopuses MDMA, aka Ecstasy, and they watched what would happen.

The Octopus used in the study was a solitary asocial Octopus species.

The result was unexpected, the asocial, solitary octopus species turned into a friendly, all hugging species, as scientists watched the cephalopods hug all up on each other.

Scientists found that dosed octopuses were “really just much more relaxed in posture, and using a lot more of their body to interact with the other octopus.”

But in addition to revealing ‘cuddly octopuses under drugs,’ the study revealed other important clues.

Scientists found an evolutionary link between humid and cephalopods in the way the neurotransmitter serotonin encodes social behavior.

“Despite anatomical differences between the octopus and human brain, we’ve shown that there are molecular similarities in the serotonin transporter gene,” said neuroscientist Gül Dölen of Johns Hopkins University.

“These molecular similarities are sufficient to enable MDMA to induce prosocial behaviors in octopuses.”

So what exactly did scientists do in the study?

They placed a hand-sized octopus inside the center of a three-chambered tank. In one chamber, researchers placed a colorful inanimate object, and in the other chambers other octopuses, protected inside a small cage, just in case the animals turned aggressive.

Scientists then observed the cephalopods undosed and noticed they spent more time with the figurine.

However, when they added Ecstasy into the bath, the cephalopods showed more interest in other octopuses and noticed they even huffed with several arms the container inside where the other octopus was located.

Speaking to Gizmodo, Dölen said: “People are beginning to recognize that these drugs are powerful tools for understanding how the brain evolved. They’re such strong activators of these behaviors. It’s not subtle.”

The unorthodox yet revealing research has been published in the journal Current Biology.

Featured Image Credit: Jim Cooke (Gizmodo)

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