While octopuses normally avoid each other, they were more social while on the drug. In fact, "they tended to hug the cage and put their mouth parts on the cage," lead author Gül Dölen said in a statement. "This is very similar to how humans react to MDMA; they touch each other frequently."
They noted that octopuses are separated from humans by more than 500 million years of evolution and have brains that are more similar to those of snails. However, with MDMA, they were able to exhibit some of the same actions of people.
The team also explained that the brain circuits that guide social behaviors in octopuses may be suppressed by natural or other circumstances.
“Octopuses will suspend their antisocial behavior for mating, for example. Then, when they are done mating, they go into aggressive, asocial mode,” Dölen said.
The analysts now hope to replicate their results in order to use the animals for brain research.