Crayfish may help researchers understand drunkenness

I’m not as thunk as drinkle peep I am

HUMANS are not the only species to enjoy a snifter. Myriad experiments on other animals, from rats and monkeys to bees and fruit flies, show that they also get drunk, will seek out alcohol given the opportunity and may even develop a dependence on the stuff. But alcohol promotes conviviality as well as drunkenness, and that relationship is less well explored. In particular, there are few studies of whether the link is reciprocal—whether conviviality, or at least a sociable environment, affects susceptibility to alcohol. This question has, however, now been looked into. In a paper just published in Experimental Biology, Matthew Swierzbinski, Andrew Lazarchik and Jens Herberholz of the University of Maryland have shown that a sociable upbringing does indeed increase sensitivity to alcohol. At least, it does if you are a crayfish.

The three researchers’ purpose in studying drunken crayfish is to understand better how alcohol induces behavioural changes. Most recreational drugs, from cocaine and heroin to nicotine and caffeine, have well-understood effects on known receptor…Continue reading

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