Scientists give octopuses MDMA – and they act just like humans on the drug

Octopuses on MDMA have been shown to act like humans on the drug, prompting scientists to suggest an evolutionary link between the two species.

Researchers studied the genome of a kind of octopus not known for its friendliness toward its peers, then tested its behavioural reaction to a popular mood-altering drug also known as ecstasy.

The researchers said the findings may open opportunities for accurately studying the impact of psychiatric drug therapies in many animals distantly related to people.

Gul Dolen, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the lead investigator conducting the experiments, said: “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 behaviours that we can.

“What our studies suggest is that certain brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, that send signals between neurons required for these social behaviours are evolutionarily conserved.”

A summary of the experiments was published in Current Biology

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