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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Drunk Maggots Make Good Students
3 December 2012 1:50 pm
Some fruit fly larvae need a little extra buzz with their lessons. The behavioral effects of alcohol are a hot topic—and numerous studies suggest that alcoholic behaviors in humans can be modeled in fruit flies and other animals. Earlier this year, for example, scientists demonstrated that male fruit flies are more likely to turn to alcohol-laced food when they've been rejected by a female. Scientists are now turning to fruit flies again to explore when these behavioral effects from alcohol begin to take place. In the new study, reported last week in Current Biology, researchers fed the larvae of fruit flies alcohol-spiked food and then tested their ability to learn to avoid an unpleasant stimulus. After consuming an amount of alcohol that would be mildly intoxicating to humans (equivalent to a 0.05 to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration) the larvae were less apt at avoiding an attractive odor that had been paired with an unpleasant heat shock than their sober counterparts—indicating that alcohol initially impaired learning. However, after a 6-day drinking binge, those same larvae adapted and were able to learn just as well as the non-alcoholics—and even performed worse when the alcohol was taken away. Once they were allowed to drink again, their performance returned to normal. Researchers say that the findings, the first evidence that invertebrate learning and memory can become dependent on alcohol,also demonstrate that alcohol directly affects cells of the nervous system.
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