Lacking love, bugs choose booze

imgres-3“A male, his affections spurned by a female that he’s attracted to, is driven to excessive alcohol consumption. The story may be familiar, but in this case, the lead characters aren’t humans — they’re fruit flies.”

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), it appears that  “that like their Homo sapiens counterparts, male members of the species Drosophila melanogaster tend to, for lack of a better term, “get drunk” after being rejected by females, reports RedOrbit. “Fruit flies apparently self-medicate just like humans do, drowning their sorrows or frustrations for some of the same reasons,” Carey wrote on Thursday.

“Male fruit flies that were rejected “preferred food spiked with alcohol far more than male flies that were able to mate” and drank “significantly more alcohol” than those who successfully mated, leading researchers to believe that “alcohol stimulates the flies’ brains as a ‘reward’ in a similar way to sexual conquest,” he added.

“The research team, including Galit Shohat-Ophir, who now works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Virginia, discovered that the behavior seems to be linked with a brain chemical called neuropeptide F (NPF),BBC News Science and Technology Reporter Jason Palmer said. He added that humans have a similar chemical in their brains known as neuropeptide Y (NPY), which has been linked to alcohol in previous studies.

“It is thought that reward systems evolved to reinforce behaviors that are important for the survival of both individuals and species, like food consumption and mating,” Shohat-Ophir told Palmer.

“Drugs of abuse kind of hijack the same neural pathways used by natural rewards, so we wanted to use alcohol — which is an extreme example of a compound that can affect the reward system — to get into the mechanism of what makes social interaction rewarding for animals,” she added.”


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