Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sexually Frustrated Fruit Flies Drink Their Pain Away

This study shows just how much insects have in common with us. It seems that fruit flies, with their notoriously simple brains, have the "ability" to consume alcohol as a coping method. Researchers placed male fruit flies female fruit flies together, and observed which males scored and which males got rejected. Afterwards, the males were given two food sources. One food source was soaked in alcohol, and the other was just ordinary food. Researchers expected that all fruit flies would prefer the alcoholic food, since alcohol is known to produce reward chemicals even in the brains of insects. What they found, however, was that fruit flies that had mated would generally avoid the alcoholic food. In contrast, the lonely rejected fruit flies would all flock to the alcoholic food. While the results don't translate directly to human behavior (alcohol consumption in fruit flies is mediated by a chemical called NPF, while no such mechanism exists in humans), it is interesting to see how such a specific (and unhealthy) behavior is found in such wildly different organisms.

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