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Here's What Scientists Learned When They Gave an Octopus Ecstasy

Scientists are always working on important experiments on things such as the cure for cancer or a new vaccine to stop a deadly disease. But the most important study currently involves octopuses and ecstasy.

A neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an octopus expert recently began an experiment where they bathed octopuses in ecstasy to see what effects the drug would have on the sea creature. Octopuses are not like humans or many other animals in that they are asocial. They avoid contact with other octopuses whenever possible. When two of them are forced together, they'll either fight or they'll get as far away as possible from each other. So the scientists wanted to see if ecstasy, a drug known for removing a person's social inhibitions, would do the same for an octopus.

And it did. The scientists created a water tank with three rooms: one in the center, one on the left with Star Wars action figures and one on the right with another octopus that was in a flowerpot so it couldn't hurt the test subject octopus but they could interact. When the test octopus was sober, they stayed away from the other octopus and went to the room with the Star Wars figures. But when they put ecstasy into the water, the octopus actually went into the room with the other one and they interacted for an average of 15 minutes.

Ecstasy had the same effect on an octopus as it did on a human. This is particularly interesting because human and octopus brains are very, very different. An octopus has far few neurons than a human, and the scientists said they have more in common with a snail than a human. But despite these huge differences in biology, ecstasy still contributed the same way.

The point of the experiment is to show ways in which ecstasy can be used beneficially. Many scientists have urged for looser restrictions on the drug as a way to help people who've experienced emotional trauma or suffer from PTSD. 

If it can work on an octopus, we're sure it will work on them as well.

(h/t SF Gate)


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