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Jilted fruit flies turn to booze

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Humans aren't the only ones who turn to alcohol in times of stress. Fruit flies, it turns out, also seek solace through drinking. In experiments seeking to understand the root causes of human addiction, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered how sexual rejection affects drinking patterns in male fruit flies.

Heberlein:     The males that had been rejected showed a much higher preference for the alcohol-containing food than their mated counterparts.

Narrator:       Study leader Ulrike Heberlein said this experiment helped them better understand how reward systems in the brain are affected by drugs.

Heberlein:     What happens with drugs of abuse is that they hijack these reward systems, which is what we call the addictive state. So we wanted to see how a natural reward, sex in this case, interacts with a drug reward, in this case alcohol.

Narrator:       Heberlein found that the flies substituted the reward of alcohol for the reward of sex, not that unlike some of their human counterparts. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.