Monday, January 05, 2009

Bees really buzz on cocaine

Australian scientists have mimicked addictive behavior in humans by dripping freebase cocaine on to the backs of honeybees, where enough is absorbed to get the bees high. The bees continue their job of searching for food, but do the "waggle dance" indicating a food source to the hive much more enthusiastically. Cut them off from the drug, though, and the foragers lose interest in discovering food, let alone announcing it. Both responses have close human analogies, despite the differences in neurobiology.
Study co-leader Andrew Barron said,“What we have in the bee is a wonderfully simple system to see how brains react to a drug of abuse. It may be that when we know that, we’ll be able to stop a brain reacting to a drug of abuse, and then we may be able to discover new ways to prevent abuse in humans.”

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