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Asocial Octopuses Become Cuddly on MDMA

章鱼吃了摇头丸会变得可爱

When humans take the drug MDMA—best known as ecstasy—they feel a deeper connection to others—emotionally and physically. Because MDMA affects serotonin, a nervous system chemical. “Serotonin is one of the oldest neurotransmitters.” Gul Dolen, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University who studies social behaviors.

当人们服用mdma——最著名的摇头丸——时,他们会在情感和身体上与他人产生更深的联系。因为MDMA会影响血清素,一种神经系统化学物质。血清素是最古老的神经递质之一。约翰霍普金斯大学研究社会行为的神经科学助理教授古尔多伦说。

“It's been implicated in all kinds of functions, lots of them having nothing to do with social, and so we wanted to know, how long ago was serotonin's function really about encoding social behaviors?” So Dolen and her colleague did what any scientist would do: they gave MDMA to octopuses. Octopuses are asocial creatures, and their last common ancestor with us lived more than a half billion years ago. Which made them a good test subject for the question at hand.

“它涉及到各种各样的功能,其中许多与社交无关,所以我们想知道,血清素的功能在多大程度上是关于编码社交行为的?”所以古尔多伦和她的同事做了任何科学家都会做的事情:他们把MDMA给了章鱼。章鱼是一种非社会性生物,它们和我们最后的共同祖先生活在5亿年前。这使得他们成为了一个很好的测试对象。

The researchers set up a simple test: “There’s a large chamber, which is basically an aquarium tank, divided it into three chambers. On one side, we put a little overturned flowerpot that's clear and plastic and has lots of holes in it. Underneath that overturned pot, we have a toy object, and on the other side, we have another overturned orchid pot, but this one has an octopus in it.”

研究人员设置了一个简单的测试:“有一个很大的房间,基本上是一个水族缸,它被分成三个房间。在一边,我们放了一个小翻转的花盆,它是透明的,塑料的,上面有很多洞。在那个翻倒的花盆下面,我们有一个玩具物体,在另一边,我们有另一个翻倒的兰花花盆,但这个里面有一只章鱼。

The researchers put an octopus in the middle chamber and watched it swim around for thirty minutes. They measured how much it interacted with on e side of the chamber—the one with the other octopus—versus the chamber with the toy. Then they soaked the test octopus in a beaker of MDMA , put it back in the aquarium and watched it for another thirty minutes. And what the researchers saw was weirdly similar to a human on MDMA:

研究人员把一只章鱼放在中间的房间里,观察它游了30分钟。他们测量了它与另一只章鱼(一只与另一只章鱼)和玩具室的互动程度。然后他们把测试过的章鱼浸泡在装有MDMA的烧杯里,把它放回水族馆,又看了30分钟。而研究人员所看到的与人类在MDMA上所看到的情况惊人地相似:

“Before they received MDMA when they were interacting, they're very reserved, even when they're spending time in the social side, they are sort of mashing their bodies up against the side wall, and extending only one arm out to touch the flower pot, and very tentatively touching with one arm…. After MDMA, all of the animals spent significantly more time in the side that had the other octopus in it. What's more is that the quality of their social interactions—they were much more loose in their body posturing, they were allowing several arms to touch the sides of the flower pot, sort of hugging around the flower pot, and exposing the bottom part of their body to the other octopus which, the way they were doing that, was suggesting they were exploring rather than any kind of aggressive posturing.”

“之前他们收到了MDMA互动时,他们很保留,甚至当他们花时间在社会方面,他们是将自己的身体与侧墙,和扩展只有一个胳膊碰了花盆,和非常暂时用一只手触摸....MDMA之后,所有的动物都在另一只章鱼的旁边呆了很长时间。更多的是社会interactions-they更宽松的质量在他们的身体姿态,他们允许几个手臂触摸的花盆,花盆的拥抱,和暴露身体的底部其他章鱼,他们这样做的方式,暗示他们探索而不是任何激进的姿态。”

These observations indicate that serotonin began playing a role in animals’ social behavior more than 500 million years ago.Dolen says these findings could help scientists better understand social behavior, as well as give clues about possible treatments for serotonin-related human conditions like schizophrenia and PTSD. Meanwhile, we’ve learned—not surprisingly, given their anatomy—that octopuses are excellent huggers.

这些观察结果表明5亿年前血清素就开始在动物的社会行为中起作用。古尔多伦说,这些发现可以帮助科学家更好地理解社会行为,并为可能治疗与血清素相关的人类疾病如精神分裂症和PTSD提供线索。与此同时,我们已经认识到——考虑到它们的结构——章鱼是极好的拥抱者。

Asocial Octopuses Become Cuddly on MDMA

When humans take the drug MDMA—best known as ecstasy—they feel a deeper connection to others—emotionally and physically. Because MDMA affects serotonin, a nervous system chemical. “Serotonin is one of the oldest neurotransmitters.” Gul Dolen, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University who studies social behaviors.

“It's been implicated in all kinds of functions, lots of them having nothing to do with social, and so we wanted to know, how long ago was serotonin's function really about encoding social behaviors?” So Dolen and her colleague did what any scientist would do: they gave MDMA to octopuses. Octopuses are asocial creatures, and their last common ancestor with us lived more than a half billion years ago. Which made them a good test subject for the question at hand.

The researchers set up a simple test: “There’s a large chamber, which is basically an aquarium tank, divided it into three chambers. On one side, we put a little overturned flowerpot that's clear and plastic and has lots of holes in it. Underneath that overturned pot, we have a toy object, and on the other side, we have another overturned orchid pot, but this one has an octopus in it.”

The researchers put an octopus in the middle chamber and watched it swim around for thirty minutes. They measured how much it interacted with on e side of the chamber—the one with the other octopus—versus the chamber with the toy. Then they soaked the test octopus in a beaker of MDMA , put it back in the aquarium and watched it for another thirty minutes. And what the researchers saw was weirdly similar to a human on MDMA:

“Before they received MDMA when they were interacting, they're very reserved, even when they're spending time in the social side, they are sort of mashing their bodies up against the side wall, and extending only one arm out to touch the flower pot, and very tentatively touching with one arm…. After MDMA, all of the animals spent significantly more time in the side that had the other octopus in it. What's more is that the quality of their social interactions—they were much more loose in their body posturing, they were allowing several arms to touch the sides of the flower pot, sort of hugging around the flower pot, and exposing the bottom part of their body to the other octopus which, the way they were doing that, was suggesting they were exploring rather than any kind of aggressive posturing.”

These observations indicate that serotonin began playing a role in animals’ social behavior more than 500 million years ago.Dolen says these findings could help scientists better understand social behavior, as well as give clues about possible treatments for serotonin-related human conditions like schizophrenia and PTSD. Meanwhile, we’ve learned—not surprisingly, given their anatomy—that octopuses are excellent huggers.


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