Scientists are exploring the many wonders of MDMA, but this has to be the most interesting study we’ve heard of thus far. As it turns out, octopuses seem to experience similar euphoria and pro-social behaviors when exposed to the substance — just as humans do.
This all started out when researchers noticed a key similarity between the human brain and that of the octopus. When on MDMA, we receive that warm and fuzzy feeling from an increase in the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. A protein involved in the process with octopuses is very similar.
Once researchers found this out, their direction for this study was clear. Study co-author Eric Edsinger explains, “pharmacologically, we could predict MDMA should work in octopus in the way it does in humans.”
To test the hypothesis, octopuses were placed in an “interconnected three-chamber tank meant to test sociability.” The social chamber included another octopus and the object chamber contained a figure of Chewbacca (because why not). Each octopus was placed in a center chamber and allowed to roam freely for 30 minutes.
Without any MDMA in their systems, octopuses tended to spend time in the social chamber if that octopus was female. If it were male, they’d hang out with Chewbacca instead. After being dosed with MDMA, octopuses were more likely to spend time with male octopuses in the social chamber — some even reaching out in the form of a “hug.”
We might be more similar to sea creatures than we think.