Dave Stancliff Scientists say sex-starved flies drown their woes in alcohol blogarama.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Scientists say sex-starved flies drown their woes in alcohol

Image: Feeding fly

Guys, when your sweetheart says “No thanks” to sex, do you knock back a few stiff drinks to feel better? Turns out fruit flies do pretty much the same thing.

That’s the word from a new study that may explain why both species react that way. In an issue of the journal Science, researchers propose a biological explanation for why “Not tonight, dear” may lead to “Gimme another beer.” If it proves true in people, it may help scientists find new medications to fight alcoholism.

In that case, we can thank thousands of frustrated flies. What’s going on here?

The researchers did other work that implicates a substance in the fly brain called NPF. They theorize that pleasurable activities like having sex boost the activity of brain circuits that use NPF, and that feels good. If a fly is denied sex, the system goes into deficit, driving the fly to seek other rewarding activities such as drinking alcohol.

“I think it’s a pretty good bet that it will translate to humans,” said Ulrike Heberlein of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research. If so, “one can say we could now understand why a negative experience, such as a sexual rejection, could drive somebody to drink.” (Read the rest here)

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